Haydock Catholic Bible Commentary
THE PROPHECY OF EZECHIEL.
Ezechiel, whose name signifies the strength of God, was of the priestly race, and of the number of the captives that were carried away to Babylon with king Joachin. He was contemporary with Jeremias, and prophesied to the same effect in Babylon as Jeremias did in Jerusalem; and is said to have ended his days in like manner, by martyrdom. (Challoner) --- He strove to comfort the captives, who began to repine that they had listened too readily to Jeremias, exhorting them to submit to the king of Babylon. Some think that part of his prophecies is lost, as Josephus mentions two books: but the nine last chapters, regarding the new city and temple, might form the second division. The Jews hesitated whether to allow his works to be canonical, as they seemed to differ from Moses, and from the dimensions given of Solomon's temple. But the same God might surely suggest some improvements, and the morality of the prophet is most excellent. (Calmet) --- His style may be compared to that of Homer (Grotius) and Alcזus. Many have thought that (Calmet) Pythagoras was his disciple; (Eusebius, prזp. xiii.) yet the latter seems to have lived after the prophet, who was led into captivity with Jechonias, the year of the world 3410, and prophesied for twenty years. He dates from this period, (Calmet) and from the renewal of the covenant under Josias, (chap. i. 1.; Haydock) when the captivity was first announced. (Worthington) --- The Jews allowed none to read the first and the nine (Haydock) last chapters, nor the beginning of Genesis, nor the Canticle of Canticles, before they were thirty years old; and they never attempted to explain the vision nor the building of the temple, supposing it to be above the power of man. (St. Jerome)
And is either superfluous, as at the beginning of most of the sacred books, (Calmet) or shews the connection of what is written with what the prophet saw or heard internally. (St. Augustine, in Psalm iv.; St. Gregory) (Worthington) --- Year: either of the age of Ezechiel, or (as others will have it) from the solemn covenant made in the eighteenth year of Josias; (4 Kings xxiii.; Challoner; Worthington; Calmet) or he alludes to the era of Nabopolassur, used at Babylon, (Menochius) or to the last jubilee. See Sanctius. The thirtieth year, from the prediction of Holda to Josias, (Haydock) concurs with the fifth of the prophet's captivity, chap. xvii. 12. (Usher, the year of the world 3410.) --- Fourth of the sacred year, (Calmet) on Friday, 24th July, (Usher) or in January. (St. Jerome) --- Chobar, or Aboras, which runs westward into the Euphrates, above Thapsacus. (Strabo) --- The captives were in those parts, though not present. (Calmet) --- Opened, in spirit, (Haydock) by faith. (St. Jerome) --- The prophet fell prostrate, chap. ii. 1. (Haydock)
Captivity. Literally, "transmigration," (Haydock) which is more agreeable to the Hebrew, &c. Jechonias delivered himself up. Six years after this, Sedecias was taken. (St. Jerome)
Hand; power, energy of the Holy Spirit. (Theodoret)
North, denoting the invasion of Judea by the Chaldeans, Isaias xiv. 31. (Sanctius) --- The Jews thought the following vision inexplicable, and deliberated about rejecting the book, when Ananias offered to answer every difficulty. They assigned him three hundred barrels of oil to light his lamp, while he performed the task. (Rabbins) --- This hyperbole shews their idea of its obscurity. (Calmet) --- Amber, (electri) a compound of four parts of gold and one of silver, (Pliny, [Natural History?] xxxiii. 4.) more precious than either. (St. Jerome) --- It may also mean orichalchum, or a mixture of gold and brass, (Bochart, anim. 2 b. vi. 16.) which was also preferred before gold alone, as it had the hardness of brass. (Lucret. Serv. in xii. ֶneid.)-----alboque orichalcho
Circumdat loricam humeris.
--- Two vessels are mentioned, probably of this composition, 1 Esdras viii. 27. (Calmet)
Living creatures. Cherubims, (as appears from Ecclesiasticus xlix. 10.) represented to the prophet under these mysterious shapes, as supporting the throne of God, and as it were drawing his chariot. All this chapter appeared so obscure and full of mysteries to the ancient Hebrews, that, as we learn from St. Jerome, (ep. ad Paulin.) they suffered none to read it before they were thirty years old. (Challoner) --- The pagans had many such compound figures as are here represented. (Parkhurst, p. 411.) (Haydock) --- Sanchoniathon (apud Eusebius, prזp. 2.) seems to have borrowed his description from this place. --- In them. They stood upright and had some parts of the human figure. (Calmet) --- Indeed, it seems to have been predominant. (Haydock)
Faces. This sometimes means shapes; and Pererius supposes that the animal had the head of a man, and the breast covered with lions' hair, the feet or round cloven hoofs of an ox, and the wings of an eagle. But it had rather four faces as well as wings, the faces of the man and lion being to the right, and the other two to the left; (Calmet; Tirinus) or the eagle was behind (Haydock) or above the head of the man, and the lion and ox at his right and left. (Cornelius a Lapide) (Menochius)
Straight. Hebrew, "a straight foot." Protestants prefer "feet." (Haydock) --- Of a calf. Aquila reads to the same import hagol, "round," instead of hegel, (Haydock) "a calf." Symmachus has "winged feet," like Mercury. (Calmet) --- Septuagint omit this, says St. Jerome, though we have his version of Symmachus as if it belonged to the Septuagint; and it occurs in Grabe as genuine. --- Brass. Septuagint add, "and their feathers were very light." (Haydock)
Wings. Their arms were covered with feathers, and the hand appeared at the extremity; or they had four arms under the wings, chap. x. 8. They all came from the shoulders, so as to correspond with the four faced animal, ver. 6. (Calmet) --- Others believe that each face had four wings, so that the animal would have sixteen. (Maldonat) --- In Isaias ix. 2., the cherub has six wings. The form was variable, as there was nothing in nature similar. They were perhaps designed to represent the eternity and dominion of God over the whole creation, ver. 28. (Haydock)
Another. Two above were extended so as to support the throne, which seemed to rest on these eight wings connected together. The others were joined so as perfectly to cover what was below the breast. (Calmet) --- Septuagint, "And the wings of those four were touching each other, and their faces (Calmet reads with Chaldean and Hebrew, wings) turned not," &c. (Haydock) --- The wings did not imitate those of birds, going to and fro, but were constantly in the same direction; or the animals did not change their respective situations: as they had four faces, there was always one of them turned to the opposite quarters of the world. (Calmet) --- They turned not about, (ver. 12.) but having faces on every side, were ready to go any way. (Worthington)
Over. This is not specified in Hebrew, Chaldean, Septuagint, or St. Jerome. (Calmet) --- "The face of an eagle for all the four." It mist have been above or behind the man, as the situation of the other two faces is here determined, ver. 6. (Haydock)
Faces. Septuagint, "wings:" and indeed it does not appear how their faces were stretched upwards, (Calmet) unless they looked earnestly that way; though, out of respect, they covered their faces with two wings.
Flashes. Hebrew Bazak. (Haydock) --- Theodotion retains the original. His version seems to have been inserted in the Septuagint, (Calmet) who omitted this verse, as seeming to contradict ver. 9., and 12. (St. Jerome) --- Yet it only signifies that the motion was quick as lightning, though they did not alter their situation with respect to each other.
Faces. One wheel crossed another at right angles, so that it was ready to move in any direction, (ver. 17.; Calmet) like a globe. (Haydock)
Sea; sky blue. Hebrew, "Tharsis," which Symmachus renders "the hyacinth;" a precious stone, Exodus xxviii. 20. (Calmet) --- Midst. The evangelists and New Testament agree perfectly with the Old. (St. Gregory, hom. vi.) (Worthington)
Parts. When they went, they went by their four parts. That is, indifferently to any of their sides, either forward or backward, to the right or to the left. (Challoner) --- Their motion was connected with the chariot, ver. 20. (Calmet)
Eyes, like Argus, or the tail of a peacock. (Calmet) --- The eye is sometimes put for a colour. (Grotius)
Life. They were moved like the rest by the whirlwind, or by living creatures. They seemed to be animated, as Homer describes Vulcan's tripods.
Crystal, or sapphire, ver. 26., and chap. x. 1. This shining sky was like the footstool of the Lord, and rested on eight wings, ver. 9, 23.
Voice. The motion of the wings made a noise like a torrent, or thunder. --- God. Hebrew, "self-sufficient," as Septuagint, &c., render it, Greek ikanou. (Calmet) --- Protestants, "like the voice of the Almighty." (Haydock) --- Down; or rather ceased to make such a noise, ver. 25. (Calmet)
Upon it. This might be omitted, as the Vulgate has only desuper, above. (Haydock) --- God was pleased to assume the shape of a man, seated on the throne.
Amber, or orichalcum, ver. 4.
Rainbow, encircling the sky blue throne and the flame. Nothing could be more dazzling, nor better manifest the subjection of man. (Calmet) --- The prophet saw four visions at once; the whirlwind, (ver. 4.) the living creatures, (ver. 5.) the wheels, (ver. 15.) and the man seated on a throne, in the sky, ver. 26. To explain all these mysteries, a large commentary would scarcely suffice. (Worthington) --- The tempest, cloud, and fire, shew the impending ruin of the Jews. The ministers of God are over ready to execute his orders. The wisdom of Providence is denoted by the name of the cherubim, the connection of causes by the four wheels, &c. (Menochius) --- God appears in his chariot going to war. He denounces vengeance on the guilty, chap. ii., and xliii. See Cornelius a Lapide. (Haydock)