Ezekiel 2:6
And you, son of man, be not afraid of them, neither be afraid of their words, though briers and thorns be with you, and you do dwell among scorpions: be not afraid of their words, nor be dismayed at their looks, though they be a rebellious house.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(6) Briers and thorns.—These words occur only here, but their meaning is sufficiently plain. Briers, indeed, might admit of the marginal translation, rebels, but both words should be taken together, either as adjectives or nouns, and the latter is more in accordance with the following “scorpions,” and with the general strongly figurative style of Ezekiel.

Ezekiel 2:6-8. And thou, be not afraid of them — “The prophets and messengers of God are often exhorted to take courage, and are promised a proportionable assistance in the discharge of their office, without fearing any man’s person, or standing in awe of any man’s greatness.” — Lowth. Neither be afraid of their words — Their accusations, threats, or whatever else a malicious heart can suggest to the tongue. Though briers and thorns be with thee — Though thou art among such as study to vex and torment thee. Briers, usually running up among thorns, are a very fit emblem of the frowardness and keenness of sinners against God and his prophets, and therefore wicked and persecuting men are often denoted by this expression in the prophetical writings. And thou dost dwell among scorpions — Among men that are malicious and revengeful, and as dangerous and hurtful as the worst of serpents. Nor be dismayed at their looks — Wherewith they would brow-beat thee. They that would do any thing to purpose in the service of God, must not fear the faces of men. And thou shalt speak my words unto them — Do not forbear or desist from speaking to them what I have given thee in charge to speak, let them threaten and behave as they will, for thou shalt not receive any hurt from them, whether they pay regard to thee as a prophet or not. But thou, hear what I say unto thee — Obey when thou hearest. Those that would speak from God to their fellow-creatures, must be sure first to hear from God themselves, and then must be obedient to his voice. Be not thou rebellious, &c. — That is, do not refuse to go on this errand, or to deliver the message wherewith I send thee; do not fly off, as Jonah did, for fear of offending thy countrymen. If ministers, whose office it is to reprove sinners, connive at sin, and gratify sinners, either not showing them their wickedness, or not setting before them the fatal consequences of it, for fear of displeasing them, and exposing themselves to their ill will, they hereby make themselves partakers of their guilt, and are rebellious like them. If people will not do their duty in reforming, yet let ministers do theirs in reproving, and this will yield them comfort on reflection, whatever the success may be. Open thy mouth, and eat that I give thee — Receive into thy mind and heart, meditate upon, and digest the things which I reveal to thee. God’s words were to sink into him, that he might faithfully deliver them to others. The knowledge of divine truths is often expressed in Scripture by the metaphors of eating, digesting, and being nourished by bodily food: see Isaiah 55:1-2; John 6:27.2:6-10 Those who will do any thing to purpose in the service of God, must not fear men. Wicked men are as briers and thorns; but they are nigh unto cursing, and their end is to be burned. The prophet must be faithful to the souls of those to whom he was sent. All who speak from God to others, must obey his voice. The discoveries of sin, and the warnings of wrath, should be matter of lamentation. And those acquainted with the word of God, will clearly perceive it is filled with woe to impenitent sinners; and that all the precious promises of the gospel are for the repenting, believing servants of the Lord.A rebellious house - A phrase employed continually by Ezekiel in bitter irony, in the place of house of Israel, as much as to say, "House no longer of Israel, but of rebellion." Compare Isaiah 30:9. 6. briers—not as the Margin and Gesenius, "rebels," which would not correspond so well to "thorns." The Hebrew is from a root meaning "to sting" as nettles do. The wicked are often so called (2Sa 23:6; So 2:2; Isa 9:18).

scorpions—a reptile about six inches long with a deadly sting at the end of the tail.

be not afraid—(Lu 12:4; 1Pe 3:14).

Thou, son of man; thou a prophet, sent by him whose throne is highest, whom thou sawest as the appearance of a man in glory, and provided with power to protect thee.

Be not afraid of them; cast away discouraging fear, be not dismayed at their persons; rulers, priests, and pretended prophets will oppose, but yet in the delivery of thy message fear none of them.

Words, Heb. will bear counsels, or words, misreports, accusations, threats, flouts, or whatever else an envious and malicious heart can suggest to the tongue.

Briers: here two words in the Hebrew are used, the first used only in this place, though frequently used in the Chaldee paraphrase, where it expresseth contumacy, as Exodus 7:14, of Pharaoh refusing to let Israel go, and Jeremiah 5:3, obstinate refusing to learn. But our translators, guided by the proper signification of the other word, have rendered it

briers, which usually run up among thorns, and are a very fit emblem of the frowardness and keenness of sinners against God and his prophet, and of the sure destruction which will befall these briers and thorns when God shall send his judgments like fire amongst them.

With thee; against thee.

Scorpions: some say this is an herb which, because it is every way armed with sharp, pricking stings, hath this name given it; but if we retain the more common interpretation, it speaks the rage and heat, the poisonous malice, and the sly lurking craft and irreconcilableness, of these apostate Jews, and of all other contemners of God and religion. These men, like scorpions, undiscerned, wound, torment, and kill.

Be not afraid; the admonition against sinful fear is repeated; lest Ezekiel should forget, or we in like case should fail of our duty, it is four times given in charge. And thou, son of man, be not afraid of them,.... Of any of them, the greatest among them, their princes and nobles; who, by their grandeur and authority, their stern looks, and big words, might awe and terrify him; wherefore it follows:

neither be afraid of their words; of their calumnies, revilings, and reproaches, their scoffs and jeers, their menaces and threatenings:

though briers and thorns be with thee; that is, men comparable to such; wicked men are like to briers and thorns, 2 Samuel 23:6; are grieving, pricking, and distressing to good men, and are of no worth and value; are useless and unprofitable, and fit fuel for everlasting burning. The Targum is,

"for they are rebellious, and hard against thee;''

so Jarchi and Kimchi explain the first word, translated "briers", as signifying rebellious and disobedient; though the former observes, that R. Donesh interprets it of a kind of thorns, of which there are twenty names, and this is one:

and thou dost dwell among scorpions; that is, as the Targum paraphrases it,

"thou dwellest in the midst of a people whose works are like to scorpions.''

Some interpret it, as Kimchi observes, of sharp thorns, of a thorny plant that grows in the form of a scorpion (a); but scorpions here are a kind of serpents, subtle, venomous, and mischievous, which have stings in their tails; which, as Pliny says, they are continually thrusting out, and striking with, that they may lose no opportunity of doing hurt (b); and fitly describe wicked men their subtlety and mischievous nature,

be not afraid of their words; as before; with which they are like briers, thorns, and scorpions, being very grievous, defamatory, and mischievous:

nor be dismayed at their looks: their frowning furious, and angry countenances; forbidding with which, as well as with their words, the prophet from prophesying unto them:

though, or "for",

they be a rebellious house; See Gill on Ezekiel 2:5.

(a) Plin. Nat. Hist. l. 21. c. 15. and l. 22. c. 16. (b) Plin. Nat. Hist. l. 11. c. 25.

And thou, son of man, {e} be not afraid of them, neither be afraid of their words, though briers and thorns are with thee, and thou dost dwell among scorpions: be not afraid of their words, nor be dismayed at their looks, though they are a rebellious house.

(e) Read Jer 1:17. He shows that for no afflictions they would cease to do their duties.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
6. Thorns and briars, that pierce and wound, and scorpions, that strike and sting, are figures for intractable and injurious men. The prophet must understand their character and not fear them.

though they be a rebellious] Rather: for they are. Stubborn opposition and injurious words may be expected of them; such conduct has always characterized them, for they are a rebellious house. Be not deceived by them nor dismayed before them, as if they were in the right and not thou; thou art in the right, and thou shalt speak my words to them (Ezekiel 2:7).Verse 6. - Though briers and thorns be with thee. The two Hebrew nouns are not found elsewhere, and have consequently puzzled translators. The LXX. gives two verbs, παροιστρήσπυσιν καὶ ἐπισυστήσονται ἐπὶ σὲ; the Vulgate, increduli et subversores. The words, however, are formed from roots that imply "pricking" or "burning," and the Authorized Version rendering, followed by the Revised Version, is tenable enough. A cognate form of the first is found in Ezekiel 28:24, and there the LXX. gives σκόλοψ, and the Vulgate, spina. A like figurative use of "scorpions" is found in 1 Kings 12:11 (but here the reference may be to some scorpion like scourge) and Ecclus. 26:7 (compare also our Lord's words in Luke 10:19). Be not afraid Compare the like command in Jeremiah 1:17. The words imply, probably, a past as well as a future experience. Ezekiel had already known what it was to dwell among those whose hearts were venomous as scorpions. The comparison was a sufficiently familiar one among both Eastern and Greek writers. The throne of Jehovah. - Ezekiel 1:22. And over the heads of the creature there appeared an expanse like the appearance of the terrible crystal, stretched out over their heads above. Ezekiel 1:23. And under the expanse were their wings, extended straight one towards another: each had two wings, covering to these, and each two (wings), covering to those, their bodies. Ezekiel 1:24. And I heard the sound of their wings, as the sound of many waters, like the voice of the Almighty, as they went: a loud rushing like the clamour of a camp: when they stood, they let down their wings. Ezekiel 1:25. And there came a voice from above the expanse which was above their heads; when they stood, they let their wings sink down. Ezekiel 1:26. Over the expanse above their heads was to be seen, like a sapphire stone, the figure of a throne: and over the figure of the throne was a figure resembling a man above it. Ezekiel 1:27. And I saw like the appearance of glowing brass, like the appearance of fire within the same round about; from the appearance of his loins upwards, and from the appearance of his loins downwards, I saw as of the appearance of fire, and a shining light was round about it. Ezekiel 1:28. Like the appearance of the bow, which is in the clouds in the day of rain, was the appearance of the shining light round about. This was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of Jehovah. And I saw it, and fell upon my face, and I heard the voice of one that spake. - Above, over the heads of the figures of the cherubim, Ezekiel sees something like the firmament of heaven (Ezekiel 1:22.), and hears from above this canopy a voice, which re-echoes in the rushing of the wings of the cherubim, and determines the movement as well as the standing still of these creatures. The first sentence of Ezekiel 1:22 literally signifies: "And a likeness was over the heads of the creature - a canopy, as it were, stretched out." רקיע is not the genitive after דּמוּת, but an explanatory apposition to it, and before רקיע; neither has כּ fallen out (as Hitzig supposes), nor is it to be supplied. For דּמוּת denotes not any definite likeness, with which another could be compared, but, properly, similitudo, and is employed by Ezekiel in the sense of "something like." רקיע, without the article, does not mean the firmament of heaven, but any expanse, the appearance of which is first described as resembling the firmament by the words כּעין הקּרח. It is not the firmament of heaven which Ezekiel sees above the heads of the cherubim, but an expanse resembling it, which has the shining appearance of a fear-inspiring crystal. נורא, used of crystal, in so far as the appearance of this glittering mass dazzles the eyes, and assures terror, as in Judges 13:6, of the look of the angel; and in Job 37:22, of the divine majesty. The description is based upon Exodus 24:10, and the similitude of the crystal has passed over to the Apocalypse, Revelation 4:6. Under the canopy were the wings of the cherubim, ישׁרות, standing straight, i.e., spread out in a horizontal direction, so that they appeared to support the canopy. אשּׁה אל־אחותה is not, with Jerome and others, to be referred to the cherubim (החיּה), but to כּנפיהם, as in Ezekiel 1:9. The לאישׁ which follows does refer, on the contrary, to the cherub, and literally signifies, "To each were two wings, covering, namely, to these and those, their bodies." להנּה corresponds to לאישׁ, in a manner analogous to לאחת להם in Ezekiel 1:6. By the repetition of the להנּה, "to these and those," the four cherubim are divided into two pairs, standing opposite to one another. That this statement contradicts, as Hitzig asserts, the first half of the verse, is by no means evident. If the two creatures on each side covered their bodies with the two wings, then two other wings could very easily be so extended under the canopy that the tops of the one should touch those of the other. As the creatures moved, Ezekiel hears the sound, i.e., the rustling of their wings, like the roaring of mighty billows. This is strengthened by the second comparison, "like the voice of the Almighty," i.e., resembling thunder, cf. Ezekiel 10:5. The קול המלּה that follows still depends on אשׁמע. המלּה, which occurs only here and in Jeremiah 11:6, is probably synonymous with המון "roaring," "noise," "tumult." This rushing sound, however, was heard only when the creatures were in motion; for when they stood, they allowed their wings to fall down. This, of course, applies only to the upper wings, as the under ones, which covered the body, hung downwards, or were let down. From this it clearly appears that the upper wings neither supported nor bore up the canopy over their heads, but only were so extended, when the cherubim were in motion, that they touched the canopy. In Ezekiel 1:25 is also mentioned whence the loud sound came, which was heard, during the moving of the wings, from above the canopy, consequently from him who was placed above it, so that the creatures, always after this voice resounded, went on or stood still, i.e., put themselves in motion, or remained without moving, according to its command.

With the repetition of the last clause of Ezekiel 1:24 this subject is concluded in Ezekiel 1:25. Over or above upon the firmament was to be seen, like a sapphire stone, the likeness of a throne, on which sat one in the form of a man - i.e., Jehovah appeared in human form, as in Daniel 7:9. Upon this was poured out a fiery, shining light, like glowing brass (עין חשׁמל, as in Ezekiel 1:4) and like fire, בּית־להּ סביב, "within it round about" (מבּית equals בּית, "within," and להּ, pointing back to דּמוּת כּסּא). This appears to be the simplest explanation of these obscure words. They are rendered differently by Hitzig, who translates them: "like fire which has a covering round about it, i.e., like fire which is enclosed, whose shining contrasts so much the more brightly on account of the dark surrounding." But, to say nothing of the change which would then be necessary of בּית into בּית, this meaning seems very far-fetched, and cannot be accepted for this reason alone, that מראה אשׁ, neither in the following hemistich (Ezekiel 1:27) nor in Ezekiel 8:2, has any such or similar strengthening addition. The appearance above shows, as the centre of the cloud (Ezekiel 1:4), a fiery gleam of light, only there is to be perceived upon the throne a figure resembling a man, fiery-looking from the loins upwards and downwards, and round about the figure, or rather round the throne, a shining light (נגהּ, cf. Ezekiel 1:4), like the rainbow in the clouds, cf. Revelation 4:3. This הוּא, Ezekiel 1:28, does not refer to הנּגהּ, but to the whole appearance of him who was enthroned - the covering of light included, but throne and cherubim (Ezekiel 10:4, Ezekiel 10:19) excluded (Hitzig)] was the appearance of the likeness of Jehovah's glory. With these words closes the description of the vision. The following clause, "And I saw, etc.," forms the transition to the word of Jehovah, which follows on the second chapter, and which summoned Ezekiel to become a prophet to Israel. Before we pass, however, to an explanation of this word, we must endeavour to form to ourselves a clear conception of the significance of this theophany.

For its full understanding we have first of all to keep in view that it was imparted to Ezekiel not merely on his being called to the office of prophet, but was again repeated three times - namely, in Ezekiel 3:22., where he was commissioned to predict symbolically the impending siege of Jerusalem; Ezekiel 8:4., when he is transported in spirit to the temple-court at Jerusalem for the purpose of beholding the abominations of the idol-worship practised by the people, and to announce the judgment which, in consequence of these abominations, was to burst upon the city and the temple, in which it is shown to him how the glory of the Lord abandons, first the temple and thereafter the city also; and in Ezekiel 43:1., in which is shown to him the filling of the new temple with the glory of the Lord, to swell for ever among the children of Israel. In all three passages it is expressly testified that the divine appearance was like the first which he witnessed on the occasion of his call. From this Kliefoth has drawn the right conclusion, that the theophany in Ezekiel 1:4. bears a relation not to the call only, but to the whole prophetic work of Ezekiel: "We may not say that God so appears to Ezekiel at a later time, because He so appeared to him at his call; but we must say, conversely, that because God wills and must so appear to Ezekiel at a later time while engaged in his prophetic vocation, therefore He also appears to him in this form already at his call." The intention, however, with which God so appears to him is distinctly contained in the two last passages, Ezekiel 8-11 and Ezekiel 43:"God withdraws in a visible manner from the temple and Jerusalem, which are devoted to destruction on account of the sin of the people: in a visible manner God enters into the new temple of the future; and because the whole of what Ezekiel was inspired to foretell was comprehended in these two things - the destruction of the existing temple and city, and the raising up of a new and a better; - because the whole of his prophetic vocation had its fulfilment in these, therefore God appears to Ezekiel on his call to be a prophet in the same form as that in which He departs from the ancient temple and Jerusalem, in order to their destruction, and in which He enters into the new edifice in order to make it a temple. The form of the theophany, therefore, is what it is in Ezekiel 1:4., because its purpose was to show and announce to the prophet, on the one side the destruction of the temple, and on the other its restoration and glorification." These remarks are quite correct, only the significance of the theophany itself is not thereby made clear. If it is clear from the purpose indicated why God here has the cherubim with Him, while on the occasion of other appearances (e.g., Daniel 7:9; Isaiah 6:1) He is without cherubim; as the cherubim here have no other significance than what their figures have in the tabernacle, viz., that God has there His dwelling-place, the seat of His gracious presence; yet this does not satisfactorily explain either the special marks by which the cherubim of Ezekiel are distinguished from those in the tabernacle and in Solomon's temple, or the other attributes of the theophany. Kliefoth, moreover, does not misapprehend those diversities in the figures of the cherubim, and finds indicated therein the intention of causing it distinctly to appear that it is the one and same Jehovah, enthroned amid the cherubim, who destroys the temple, and who again uprears it. Because Ezekiel was called to predict both events, he therefore thinks there must be excluded, on the one hand, such attributes in the form of the manifestation as would be out of harmony with the different aims of the theophany; while, on the other, those which are important for the different aims must be combined and comprehended in one form, that this one form may be appropriate to all the manifestations of the theophany. It could not therefore have in it the ark of the covenant and the mercy-seat; because, although these would probably have been appropriate to the manifestation for the destruction of the old temple (Ezekiel 8:1.), they would not have been in keeping with that for entering into the new temple. Instead of this, it must show the living God Himself upon the throne among "the living creatures;" because it belongs to the new and glorious existence of the temple of the future, that it should have Jehovah Himself dwelling within it in a visible form.

From this, too, may be explained the great fulness of the attributes, which are divisible into three classes: 1. Those which relate to the manifestation of God for the destruction of Jerusalem; 2. Those which relate to the manifestation of God for entering into the new temple; and, 3. Those which serve both objects in common. To the last class belongs everything which is essential to the manifestation of God in itself, e.g., the visibility of God in general, the presence of the cherubim in itself, and so on: to the first class all the signs that indicate wrath and judgment, consequently, first, the coming from the north, especially the fire, the lightnings, in which God appears as He who is coming to judgment; but to the second, besides the rainbow and the appearance of God in human form, especially the wheels and the fourfold manifestation in the cherubim and wheels. For the new temple does not represent the rebuilding of the temple by Zerubbabel, but the economy of salvation founded by Christ at His appearing, to which they belong as essential tokens; to be founded, on the one hand, by God's own coming and dwelling upon the earth; on the other, to be of an oecumenic character, in opposition to the particularities and local nature of the previous ancient dispensation of salvation. God appears bodily, in human form; lowers down to earth the canopy on which His throne is seated; the cherubim, which indicate God's gracious presence with His people, appear not merely in symbol, but in living reality, plant their feet upon the ground, while each cherub has at his side a wheel, which moves, not in the air, but only upon the earth. By this it is shown that God Himself is to descend to the earth, to walk and to dwell visibly among His people; while the oecumenic character of the new economy of salvation, for the establishment of which God is to visit the earth, is represented in the fourfold form of the cherubim and wheels. The number four - the sign of the oecumenicity which is to come, and the symbol of its being spread abroad into all the world - is assigned to the cherubim and wheels, to portray the spreading abroad of the new kingdom of God over the whole earth. But how much soever that is true and striking this attempt at explanation may contain in details, it does not touch the heart of the subject, and is not free from bold combinations. The correctness of the assumption, that in the theophany attributes of an opposite kind are united, namely, such as should refer only to the destruction of Jerusalem and of the temple, and such as relate only to the foundation and nature of the new economy of salvation, is beset with well-founded doubts. Why, on such a hypothesis, should the form of the theophany remain the same throughout in all three or four cases? This question, which lies on the surface, is not satisfactorily answered by the remark that Ezekiel had to predict not only the destruction of the old, but also the foundation of a new and much more glorious kingdom of God. For not only would this end, but also the object of showing that it is the same God who is to accomplish both, have been fully attained if the theophany had remained the same only in those attributes which emblemize in a general way God's gracious presence in His temple; while the special attributes, which typify only the one and the other purpose of the divine appearance, would only they have been added, or brought prominently out, where this or that element of the theophany had to be announced. Moreover, the necessity in general of a theophany for the purpose alleged is not evident, much less the necessity of a theophany so peculiar in form. Other prophets also, e.g., Micah, without having seen a theophany, have predicted in the clearest and distinctest manner both the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple, and the raising up of a new and more glorious kingdom of God. The reason, then, why Ezekiel witnessed such a theophany, not only at his call, but had it repeated to him at every new turn in his prophetic ministry, must be deeper than that assigned; and the theophany must have another meaning than that of merely consecrating the prophet for the purpose of announcing both the judgment upon Jerusalem and the temple, and the raising up of a new and more glorious economy of salvation, and strengthening the word of the prophet by a symbolical representation of its contents.

To recognise this meaning, we must endeavour to form a distinct conception, not merely of the principal elements of our theophany, but to take into consideration at the same time their relation to other theophanies. In our theophany three elements are unmistakeably prominent - 1st, The peculiarly formed cherubim; 2nd, The wheels are seen beside the cherubim; and, 3rd, The firmament above, both with the throne and the form of God in human shape seated upon the throne. The order of these three elements in the description is perhaps hardly of any importance, but is simply explicable from this, that to the seer who is on earth it is the under part of the figure which, appearing visibly in the clouds, first presents itself, and that his look next turns to the upper part of the theophany. Especially significant above all, however, is the appearance of the cherubim under or at the throne of God; and by this it is indisputably pointed out that He who appears upon the throne is the same God that is enthroned in the temple between the cherubim of the mercy-seat upon their outspread wings. Whatever opinion may be formed regarding the nature and significance of the cherubim, this much is undoubtedly established, that they belong essentially to the symbolical representation of Jehovah's gracious presence in Israel, and that this portion of our vision has its real foundation in the plastic representation of this gracious relation in the Holy of Holies of the tabernacle or temple. As, however, opinions are divided on the subject of the meaning of these symbols, and the cherubim of Ezekiel, moreover, present no inconsiderable differences in their four faces and four wings from the figures of the cherubim upon the mercy-seat and in the temple, which had only one face and two wings, we must, for the full understanding of our vision, look a little more closely to the nature and significance of the cherubim.

While, according to the older view, the cherubim are angelic beings of a higher order, the opinion at the present day is widely prevalent, that they are only symbolical figures, to which nothing real corresponds - merely ideal representations of creature life in its highest fulness.

(Note: Compare the investigation of the cherubim in my Handbuch der Biblischen Archaeologie, I. pp. 86ff. and 113ff.; also Kliefoth's Abhandlung ber die Zahlensymbolik der heiligen Schrift in der Theolog. Zeitschrift von Dieckhoff und Kliefoth, III. p. 381ff., where especially the older view - that the cherubim are angelic beings of a higher rank - is defended in a thorough manner, and the daring hypothesis of Hofmann signally refuted; lastly, Ed. C. Aug. Riehm, De natur et notione symbolic Cheruborum, Commentat. Basil. 1864, who, proceeding from the view - adopted by Bhr, Hengstenberg, and others - that the cherubim were only symbolical figures, has sought to determine more minutely the meaning of these symbols.)

This modern view, however, finds in the circumstance that the cherubim in the Israelitish sanctuary, as well as in Ezekiel and in the Apocalypse, are symbolical figures of varying shape, only an apparent but no real support. The cherubim occur for the firs time in the history of Paradise, where, in Genesis 3:22-24, it is related that God, after expelling the first human pair from Paradise, placed at the east side of the garden the cherubim and the flame of a sword, which turned hither and thither, to guard the way to the tree of life. If this narrative contains historical truth, and is not merely a myth or philosopheme; if Paradise and the Fall, with their consequences, extending over all humanity, are to remain real things and occurrences - then must the cherubim also be taken as real beings. "For God will not have placed symbols - pure creations of Hebrew fancy - at the gate of Paradise," Kliefoth. Upon the basis of this narrative, Ezekiel also held the cherubim to be spiritual beings of a higher rank. This appears from Ezekiel 28:14-16, where he compares the prince of Tyre, in reference to the high and glorious position which God had assigned him, to a cherub, and to Elohim. It does not at all conflict with the recognition of the cherubim as real beings, and, indeed, as spiritual or angelic beings, that they are employed in visions to represent super-sensible relations, or are represented in a plastic form in the sanctuary of Israel. "When angels," as Kliefoth correctly remarks in reference to this, "sing the song of praise in the holy night, this is an historical occurrence, and these angels are real angels, who testify by their appearance that there are such beings as angels; but when, in the Apocalypse, angels pour forth sounds of wrath, these angels are figures in vision, as elsewhere, also, men and objects are seen in vision." But even this employment of the angels as "figures" in vision, rests upon the belief that there are actually beings of this kind. Biblical symbolism furnishes not a single undoubted instance of abstract ideas, or ideal creations of the imagination, being represented by the prophets as living beings. Under the plastic representation of the cherubim upon the mercy-seat, and in the most holy and holy place of the tabernacle and the temple, lies the idea, that these are heavenly, spiritual beings; for in the tabernacle and temple (which was built after its pattern) essential relations of the kingdom of God are embodied, and all the symbols derived from things having a real existence. When, however, on the other hand, Hengstenberg objects, on Revelation 4:6, "that what Vitringa remarks is sufficient to refute those who, under the cherubim, would understand angels of rank - viz. that these four creatures are throughout the whole of this vision connected with the assembly of the elders, and are distinguished not only from the angels, but from all the angels, as is done in Ezekiel 7:11," - we must regard this refutation as altogether futile. From the division of the heavenly assembly before the throne into two choirs or classes (Revelation 5:1-14 and 7) - in which the ζῶα (cherubim) and the elders form the one (Revelation 5:8), the ἄγγελοι the other choir (Revelation 5:11) - an argument can be as little derived against the angelic nature of the cherubim, as it could be shown, from the distinction between the στρατιὰ οὐράνιος and ἀγγελος, in Luke 2:13, that the "multitude of the heavenly host" were no angels at all. And the passage in Revelation 7:11 would only then furnish the supposed proof against the relationship of the cherubim to the angels, if πάντες ἄγγελοι (in general - all angels, how numerous soever they may be - were spoken of. But the very tenor of the words, πάντες οἱ ἄγγελοι "all the angels," points back to the choir of angels already mentioned in Ezekiel 5:11, which was formed by πολλοὶ ἄγγελοι, whose number was ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands.

(Note: See on this distinction Winer's Grammar of New Testament Greek (Moulton's translation), p. 137, where, among other remarks, it is observed that "πᾶσαι γενεαί are all generations, whatever their number; πᾶσαι αί γενεαί (Matthew 1:17), all the generations - those which, either from the context or in some other way, are familiar as a definite number.")

From the distinction between the ζῶα and the ἄγγελοι in the Apocalypse, no further inference can be deduced than that the cherubim are not common angels, "ministering spirits, sent forth to minister" (Hebrews 1:14), but constitute a special class of angels of higher rank.

More exact information regarding the relationship of the cherubim to the other angels, or their nature, cannot indeed be obtained, either from the name cherubim or from the circumstance that, with the exception of Genesis 3, they occur always only in connection with the throne of God. The etymology of the word כּרוּב is obscure: all the derivations that have been proposed from the Hebrew or any other Semitic dialect cannot make the slightest pretensions to probability. The word appears to have come down from antiquity along with the tradition of Paradise. See my Biblical Archaeology, p. 88ff. If we take into consideration, however, that Ezekiel calls them חיּות, and first in Ezekiel 10 employs the name כּרוּבים, known from the tabernacle, or rather from the history of Paradise; since, as may be inferred from Ezekiel 10:20, he first recognised, from the repetition of the theophany related in Ezekiel 10, that the living creatures seen in the vision were cherubim - we may, from the designation חיּות, form a supposition, if not as to their nature, at least as to the significance of their position towards the throne of God. They are termed חיּות, "living," not as being "ideal representatives of all living things upon the earth" (Hengstenberg), but as beings which, among all the creatures in heaven and earth, possess and manifest life in the fullest sense of the word, and on that very account, of all spiritual beings, stand nearest to the God of the spirits of all flesh (who lives from eternity to eternity), and encircle His throne. With this representation harmonises not only the fact, that after the expulsion of the first human beings from Paradise, God commanded them to guard the way to the tree of life, but also the form in which they were represented in the sanctuary and in the visions. The cherubim in the sanctuary had the form of a man, and were only marked out by their wings as super-terrestrial beings, not bound by the earthly limits of space. The cherubim in Ezekiel and the Apocalypse also preserve the appearance of a man. Angels also assume the human form when they appear visibly to men on earth, because of all earthly creatures man, created in the image of God, takes the first and highest place. For although the divine image principally consists in the spiritual nature of man, - in the soul breathed into him by the Spirit of God, - yet his bodily form, as the vessel of this soul, is the most perfect corporeity of which we have any knowledge, and as such forms the most appropriate garment for the rendering visible the heavenly spiritual being within. But the cherubim in our vision exhibit, besides the figure of the human body with the face of a man, also the face of the lion, of the ox, and of the eagle, and four wings, and appear as four-sided, square-formed beings, with a face on each of their four sides, so that they go in any direction without turning, and yet, while so doing, they can always proceed in the direction of one face; while in the vision in the Apocalypse, the four faces of the creatures named are divided among the four cherubim, so that each has only one of them. In the countenance of man is portrayed his soul and spirit, and in each one also of the higher order of animals, its nature. The union of the lion, ox, and eagle-faces with that of man in the cherubim, is intended, doubtless, to represent them as beings which possess the fulness and the power of life, which in the earthly creation is divided among the four creatures named. The Rabbinical dictum (Schemoth Rabba, Schttgen, Horae Hebraicae, p. 1168): Quatuor sunt qui principatum in hoc mundo tenent. Inter creaturas homo, inter aves aquila, inter pecora bos, inter bestias leo, contains a truth, even if there lies at the foundation of it the idea that these four creatures represent the entire earthly creation. For in the cher

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