Ezekiel 10:14
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.
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Ezekiel 10:14. And every one had four faces — See notes on Ezekiel 1:6-10. The first had the face of a cherub — That is, of an ox, as appears by comparing this verse with Ezekiel 1:10. The word cherub, indeed, originally signifies an ox. The several faces are here represented in a different order from the description given of them Ezekiel 1:10, of which difference this reason may be assigned. In the first chapter the prophet saw this vision coming out of the north, and advancing southward, (Ezekiel 10:4,) where the face of a man, being placed on the south side, was first in view. The lion, being on the east part, was toward his right hand; the ox, being placed toward the west, was on his left; and the eagle was toward the north. This interpretation is justified from the situation of the standards of the several tribes of Israel in the wilderness, (Numbers 2:2; Numbers 2:10; Numbers 2:18; Numbers 2:25,) where Judah, whose standard was a lion, was placed on the east side; Reuben, whose standard was a man, was placed on the south; Ephraim, whose standard was an ox, was placed on the west; and Dan, whose standard was an eagle, was placed on the north side. Here the prophet is supposed to stand westward of the Shechinah, as that was moving eastward: so the ox was first in his view.10:8-22 Ezekiel sees the working of Divine providence in the government of the lower world, and the affairs of it. When God is leaving a people in displeasure, angels above, and all events below, further his departure. The Spirit of life, the Spirit of God, directs all creatures, in heaven and on earth, so as to make them serve the Divine purpose. God removes by degrees from a provoking people; and, when ready to depart, would return to them, if they were a repenting, praying people. Let this warn sinners to seek the Lord while he may be found, and to call on him while he is near, and cause us all to walk humbly and watchfully with our God.The first face ... - The face of the first was the face of the cherub, and the face of the second was the face of a man, and the third the face of a lion and the fourth the face of an eagle. Of the four faces of each cherub, the seer names only one - the face looking in the direction in which that cherub leads the motion of the chariot. The face of the cherub which presented itself to the seer was that of "an ox." When he looking northward first saw the chariot the "ox-face" was on the left side Ezekiel 1:10. This would make the ox-face look eastward, and it is not unlikely that the man might approach the chariot from the southeastern part of the inner court. 14. cherub—but in Eze 1:10 it is an ox. The chief of the four cherubic forms was not the ox, but man. Therefore "cherub" cannot be synonymous with "ox." Probably Ezekiel, standing in front of one of the cherubim (namely, that which handed the coals to the man in linen), saw of him, not merely the ox-form, but the whole fourfold form, and therefore calls him simply "cherub"; whereas of the other three, having only a side view, he specifies the form of each which met his eye [Fairbairn]. As to the likelihood of the lower animals sharing in "the restoration of all things," see Isa 11:6; 65:25; Ro 8:20, 21; this accords with the animal forms combined with the human to typify redeemed man. 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 everyone had four faces,.... That is, everyone of the wheels, for of these the words are continued; and which agrees with Ezekiel 1:15; See Gill on Ezekiel 1:15,

the first face was the face of a cherub; this being in the room of the ox's face, Ezekiel 1:10, shows that the face of an ox and a cherub are the same; and that the living creatures have the general name of cherubim, from the face of an ox; and are so called from which in the Syriac and Chaldee languages signifies to "plough", that creature being made use of in such service:

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; how these are applicable to Gospel churches, and the true members of them; see Gill on Ezekiel 1:15.

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.
14. The verse, which LXX. omits, is difficult. The words rendered “first face” might have that sense or the sense “one face” at a pinch, but mean naturally “face of the first;” and those rendered “the second face” can hardly mean anything but “the face of the second,” for it is precarious to extend constructions like Jeremiah 46:2 “the year of the fourth” (year) = the fourth year, to other words than “year.” The easiest course would be to omit the word “face” before “first” and “second,” as in fact it does not stand before “third” and “fourth;” or perhaps it might be enough to omit it before “second” and assume that the anomalous constr. “one face” (Leviticus 24:22; 2 Kings 12:10) had led to the insertion of “face” before “the second.”

face of a cherub] Of the cherub. As the other faces were those of a man, a lion, and an eagle, this face must be that of the ox (ch. Ezekiel 1:10). Why should this be called the face of the cherub? It is said that the winged bulls at the portals of Assyrian temples are called cherubs in Assyrian (Fried. Del. Paradies, p. 153, Lenormant, Les origines de l’histoire, p. 118), but these winged bulls have not the face of an ox but that of a man, and there is no probability that in Israel the cherubs in the temple were ox-faced.

It seems possible to explain the verse only by making some suppositions which may appear rather artificial, viz. first that the prophet looking at the phenomenon of the chariot and four creatures as a whole saw four faces presented to him, one (and a different one) by each of the creatures, and that he named the faces which were thus presented to him. We should then translate “the face of the first,” “the face of the second” &c., though this seems opposed to the meaning of the first words of the verse. And secondly, that he assumes the side of the chariot presented to him not to be the front, but regards the side looking in another direction as the front or head. His view of the chariot is taken when it rose and proceeded eastward (Ezekiel 10:19); and he regards the side of the chariot turned to the east as the front, and he calls the cherub which led the movement to the east the cherub. Further at this moment the chariot and cherubim were standing on the south side of the house (Ezekiel 10:3), and the prophet’s position was probably near the house and thus to the north or left of the phenomenon. Now the ox-face of all the cherubs was on their left (ch. Ezekiel 1:10), that is, in the case of a cherub leading the movement eastward, toward the north where the prophet presumably was standing. Thus he would see the ox-face of the first cherub (whose human face was eastward, leading the whole chariot). He would also see the man’s face of the cherub on the side of the chariot facing himself, the lion’s face of the cherub who stood on the west side of the chariot, and the eagle’s face of the cherub on the south side of the chariot, for all the eagle-faces looked inward to the centre of the chariot. This is the order followed in the verse.Verse 14. - The first face was the face of a cherub, etc.; better, with the Revised Version, of the cherub. This takes the place of "the face of an ox" in Ezekiel 1:10, and it is first in order instead of being, as there, the third. It is as though, in this second vision, he recognizes that this was emphatically the cherubic form. Possibly the article indicates that this was the form that had given the "coals of fire" in ver. 7. Each form, we must remember, had the four faces, but the prophet names the face which each presented to him as he gazed. The angel scatters coals of fire over Jerusalem. - Ezekiel 10:1. And I saw, and behold upon the firmament, which was above the cherubim, it was like sapphire-stone, to look at as the likeness of a throne; He appeared above them. Ezekiel 10:2. And He spake to the man clothed in white linen, and said: Come between the wheels below the cherubim, and fill thy hollow hands with fire-coals from between the cherubim, and scatter them over the city: and he came before my eyes. Ezekiel 10:3. And the cherubim stood to the right of the house when the man came, and the cloud filled the inner court. Ezekiel 10:4. And the glory of Jehovah had lifted itself up from the cherubim to the threshold of the house; and the house was filled with the cloud, and the court was full of the splendour of the glory of Jehovah. Ezekiel 10:5. And the noise of the wings of the cherubim was heard to the outer court, as the voice of the Almighty God when He speaketh. Ezekiel 10:6. And it came to pass, when He commanded the man clothed in white linen, and said, Take fire from between the wheels, from between the cherubim, and he came and stood by the side of the wheel, Ezekiel 10:7. That the cherub stretched out his hand between the cherubim to the fire, which was between the cherubim, and lifted (some) off and gave it into the hands of the man clothed in white linen. And he took it, and went out. Ezekiel 10:8. And there appeared by the cherubim the likeness of a man's hand under their wings. - Ezekiel 10:1 introduces the description of the second act of the judgment. According to Ezekiel 9:3, Jehovah had come down from His throne above the cherubim to the threshold of the temple to issue His orders thence for the judgment upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and according to Ezekiel 10:4 He goes thither once more. Consequently He had resumed His seat above the cherubim in the meantime. This is expressed in Ezekiel 10:1, not indeed in so many words, but indirectly or by implication. Ezekiel sees the theophany; and on the firmament above the cherubim, like sapphire-stone to look at, he beholds the likeness of a throne on which Jehovah appeared. To avoid giving too great prominence in this appearance of Jehovah to the bodily or human form, Ezekiel does not speak even here of the form of Jehovah, but simply of His throne, which he describes in the same manner as in Ezekiel 1:26. אל stands for על according to the later usage of the language. It will never do to take אל in its literal sense, as Kliefoth does, and render the words: "Ezekiel saw it move away to the firmament;" for the object to ואראה והנּה is not יהוה or כּבוד , but the form of the throne sparkling in sapphire-stone; and this throne had not separated itself from the firmament above the cherubim, but Jehovah, or the glory of Jehovah, according to Ezekiel 9:3, had risen up from the cherubim, and moved away to the temple threshold. The כּ before מראה is not to be erased, as Hitzig proposes after the lxx, on the ground that it is not found in Ezekiel 1:26; it is quite appropriate here. For the words do not affirm that Ezekiel saw the likeness of a throne like sapphire-stone; but that he saw something like sapphire-stone, like the appearance of the form of a throne. Ezekiel does not see Jehovah, or the glory of Jehovah, move away to the firmament, and then return to the throne. He simply sees once more the resemblance of a throne upon the firmament, and the Lord appearing thereon. The latter is indicated in נראה עליהם. These words are not to be taken in connection with 'כּמראה וגו, so as to form one sentence; but have been very properly separated by the athnach under כּסּא, and treated as an independent assertion. The subject to נראה might, indeed, be דּמוּת כּסּא, "the likeness of a throne appeared above the cherubim;" but in that case the words would form a pure tautology, as the fact of the throne becoming visible has already been mentioned in the preceding clause. The subject must therefore be Jehovah, as in the case of ויּאמר in Ezekiel 10:2, where there can be no doubt on the matter. Jehovah has resumed His throne, not "for the purpose of removing to a distance, because the courts of the temple have been defiled by dead bodies" (Hitzig), but because the object for which He left it has been attained.

He now commands the man clothed in white linen to go in between the wheels under the cherubim, and fill his hands with fire-coals from thence, and scatter them over the city (Jerusalem). This he did, so that Ezekiel could see it. According to this, it appears as if Jehovah had issued the command from His throne; but if we compare what follows, it is evident from Ezekiel 10:4 that the glory of Jehovah had risen up again from the throne, and removed to the threshold of the temple, and that it was not till after the man in white linen had scattered the coals over the city that it left the threshold of the temple, and ascended once more up to the throne above the cherubim, so as to forsake the temple (Ezekiel 10:18.). Consequently we can only understand Ezekiel 10:2-7 as implying that Jehovah issued the command in Ezekiel 10:2, not from His throne, but from the threshold of the temple, and that He had therefore returned to the threshold of the temple for this purpose, and for the very same reason as in Ezekiel 9:3. The possibility of interpreting the verses in this way is apparent from the fact that Ezekiel 10:2 contains a summary of the whole of the contents of this section, and that Ezekiel 10:3-7 simply furnish more minute explanations, or contain circumstantial clauses, which throw light upon the whole affair. This is obvious in the case of Ezekiel 10:3, from the form of the clause; and in Ezekiel 10:4 and Ezekiel 10:5, from the fact that in Ezekiel 10:6 and Ezekiel 10:7 the command (Ezekiel 10:2) is resumed, and the execution of it, which was already indicated in ויּבא לעיני (Ezekiel 10:2), more minutely described and carried forward in the closing words of the seventh verse, ויּקּח . הגּלגּל in Ezekiel 10:2 signifies the whirl or rotatory motion, i.e., the wheel-work, or the four ōphannim under the cherubim regarded as moving. The angel was to go in between these, and take coals out of the fire there, and scatter them over the city. "In the fire of God, the fire of His wrath, will kindle the fire for consuming the city" (Kliefoth). To depict the scene more clearly, Ezekiel observes in Ezekiel 10:3, that at this moment the cherubim were standing to the right of the house, i.e., on the south or rather south-east of the temple house, on the south of the altar of burnt-offering. According to the Hebrew usage the right side as the southern side, and the prophet was in the inner court, whither, according to Ezekiel 8:16, the divine glory had taken him; and, according to Ezekiel 9:2, the seven angels had gone to the front of the altar, to receive the commands of the Lord. Consequently we have to picture to ourselves the cherubim as appearing in the neighbourhood of the altar, and then taking up their position to the south thereof, when the Lord returned to the threshold of the temple. The reason for stating this is not to be sought, as Calvin supposes, in the desire to show "that the way was opened fore the angel to go straight to God, and that the cherubim were standing there ready, as it were, to contribute their labour." The position in which the cherubim appeared is more probably given with prospective reference to the account which follows in Ezekiel 10:9-22 of the departure of the glory of the Lord from the temple. As an indication of the significance of this act to Israel, the glory which issued from this manifestation of divine doxa is described in Ezekiel 10:3-5. The cloud, as the earthly vehicle of the divine doxa, filled the inner court; and when the glory of the Lord stood upon the threshold, it filled the temple also, while the court became full of the splendour of the divine glory. That is to say, the brilliancy of the divine nature shone through the cloud, so that the court and the temple were lighted by the shining of the light-cloud. The brilliant splendour is a symbol of the light of the divine grace. The wings of the cherubim rustled, and at the movement of God (Ezekiel 1:24) were audible even in the outer court.

After this picture of the glorious manifestation of the divine doxa, the fetching of the fire-coals from the space between the wheels under the cherubim is more closely described in Ezekiel 10:6 and Ezekiel 10:7. One of the cherub's hands took the coals out of the fire, and put them into the hands of the man clothed in white linen. To this a supplementary remark is added in Ezekiel 10:8, to the effect that the figure of a hand was visible by the side of the cherubim under their wings. The word ויּצא, "and he went out," indicates that the man clothed in white linen scattered the coals over the city, to set it on fire and consume it.

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