Ezekiel 2:8
But you, son of man, hear what I say to you; Be not you rebellious like that rebellious house: open your mouth, and eat that I give you.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(8) Eat that I give thee.—This is to be understood, like all that has gone before, as done in vision, as in the case of the book eaten by St. John in Revelation 10:9-10. The figure of eating for receiving into the heart, so as to be thoroughly possessed by what is communicated, is not an uncommon one. (Comp. Jeremiah 15:16; John 6:53-58.)

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. 8. eat—(See on [1019]Jer 15:16; Re 10:9, 10). The idea is to possess himself fully of the message and digest it in the mind; not literal eating, but such an appropriation of its unsavory contents that they should become, as it were, part of himself, so as to impart them the more vividly to his hearers. Hear what I say unto thee; obey when thou hearest. Harden not thyself in a seeming modest declining the office of a prophet, wed not thine own resolution herein.

Rebellious house; house of rebellion, as Ezekiel 2:7.

Open thy mouth, and eat that I give thee: some take this figuratively, as if here the prophet had been called to open the powers of his soul and mind, to receive, retain all that God speaks; but I rather think that the prophet is required to open his mouth to eat what was put into his hand, i.e. the book, insinuating his Divine call and inspiration, and the bitterness of the Jews’ calamity. A visionary book and a visionary eating is here spoken of. But thou, son of man, hear what I say unto thee,.... Which was necessary because he was to speak not his own words, but the Lord's, and therefore ought to hear before he spoke; and indeed those that speak in a public way, for the instruction of others, ought to hear and learn of Christ first:

be not thou rebellious, like that rebellious house; who would not hear what was said unto them; but they were not to be imitated no, not in a lesser degree: the prophet was to avoid everything that looked like rebellion; as in, attention to what was said to him hesitation about it, or backwardness to publish it;

open thy mouth; be ready to receive what should be given, as a symbol of the prophecy he was to deliver. The Targum is,

"incline thy soul, and receive what I give thee.''

Jarchi's note is incline thine ear and hear and let it be sweet to thee, as if thou didst eat food for hunger; and Kimchi observes, the intention of the figurative expression is to learn the words of the prophecy, and to remember them:

and eat that I give thee; which may be safely done; for Christ gives his ministers and people nothing but what is wholesome; his doctrines are wholesome words and may be eaten without fear, 1 Timothy 6:3.

But thou, son of man, hear what I say to thee; Be not thou rebellious like that rebellious house: open thy mouth, and {f} eat that which I give thee.

(f) He not only exhorts him to his duty but also gives him the means with which he may be able to execute it.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
8. be not rebellious] In addition to the positive command, “hear what I say unto thee,” the prophet is warned not to refuse and be rebellious like the house of Israel. There was need for this double peremptoriness of the command. The instinctive act of men before any great undertaking of the kind set before the prophet is to shrink from it. Jonah fled that he might escape from the task laid on him; Moses and Jeremiah both entreated that they might be relieved of it. The work was both arduous and painful: painful because it was against his own people that the prophet had to speak; and arduous because leading to opposition and persecution. There is no easy situation in God’s service. Had the prophet refused the great commission he would have rebelled like Israel. And no doubt Israel’s rebellion was also from an arduous and painful commission, whether we regard its task to have been to walk before God as his people, or to be the prophet of Jehovah to the nations, being entrusted as Ezekiel was with his word. In both Israel may be said to all appearance to have failed. Yet not wholly: the Servant of the Lord, the true Israel of God, existing all throughout the history of the outward Israel, could say, “the Lord opened mine ear, and I was not rebellious, nor turned away back” (Isaiah 50:5).

The command to hear and not be rebellious is hardly to be confined to the act of eating the Book, but refers rather to the whole ministry of the prophet, although, considering that the Book was a symbol of all God’s words to him, and his eating it a symbol of his receiving them, the sense in either case is the same (cf. Ezekiel 2:10).

The passage suggests: (1) the divine source of that which the prophet was to say and has said—“eat that I give thee” (Ezekiel 2:8), “a hand stretched out and in it a book” (Ezekiel 2:9), “he made me eat that roll of a book” (Ezekiel 3:2). (2) The definiteness of it: it was a roll of a book (Ezekiel 2:9), although its contents were large, the roll being written both in front of the page and on the back. This was unusual, rolls being generally written only on one side. The idea is reproduced, Revelation 5:1. (3) The nature of the contents—“lamentation and mourning and woe” (Ezekiel 2:10). The prophet was made well aware of the nature of the contents as well as of their extent, “he spread the roll before me” (Ezekiel 2:10). (4) The prophet made the Book his own, he “did eat it,” and it “filled” him (Ezekiel 3:3). And having eaten it it was in his mouth as honey for sweetness. The sweetness was not due to this, that, though the Book contained bitter things at the first, at the end it was filled with promises which were sweet, for there was written thereon lamentation and woe; it was due rather to this that the things written were from God, whose bitter word is sweet. “Thy words were found and I did eat them; and thy word was unto me the joy and rejoicing of mine heart, for I am called by thy name (am thine and thy servant) Jehovah, God of hosts,” Jeremiah 15:16. Cf. Psalm 19:10; Revelation 10:8-11.

The prophet’s idea of what we call his inspiration is perhaps more precise and stringent than that of Isaiah. In the inaugural vision of the latter prophet (ch. 6), “there flew one of the seraphim having a live coal in his hand, … and he laid it on my mouth and said, Lo, this hath touched thy lips and thine iniquity is taken away.” Immediately on this an impulse seized the prophet to enter upon the service of God: I said, Here am I, send me. The forgiveness of sin and moral purity, carrying with it sympathy with the great King and the ministering spirits around him, and elevating the man into that exalted sphere of life, seemed enough to Isaiah to constitute him a prophet. There was in him a strength and power of character which needed only the removal of the moral hindrance to set them free. But both Jeremiah and Ezekiel were weaker men. Ezekiel as is usual with him makes Jeremiah his model, and he can hardly be said to go beyond that prophet: “The Lord said unto me, whatsoever I command thee that shalt thou speak. Then the Lord put forth his hand and touched my mouth. And the Lord said unto me, Behold I have put my words in thy mouth,” Jeremiah 1:7-9. Both the later prophets represent themselves as receiving not merely the “word” but the “words” of Jehovah.

8–3:3. The prophet’s inspiration

Being commanded to speak God’s words to the people, the prophet is next assured by a symbol, a book given him to eat, that God’s words shall be given him.Verse 8. - Be not thou rebellious, etc. The words convey a warning against the prophet's natural weakness. Instinctively he shrank, as Moses had done (Exodus 3:11; Exodus 4:10-13) and Isaiah (Isaiah 6:5) and Jeremiah (Jeremiah 1:6), from his dread vocation of being a "mortal vessel of the Divine Word." In so shrinking he would identify himself with the very "rebellion" which he was sent to reprove, and would incur its punishment. Eat that I give thee. As in the parallel of Revelation 10:9, the words imply that what was to be given him was no message resting, as it were, on the surface of the soul. It was to enter into the prophet's innermost life, to be the food and nourishment of his soul; to be, in our familiar phrase, "inwardly digested" and incorporated with his very flesh and blood. He was to live "not by bread only" (Deuteronomy 6:3), but by every word that proceeded out of the mouth of Jehovah. 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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