King James Bible
with Catholic Commentary by George Leo Haydock

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Ezekiel 1

Ezekiel’s vision of God, and of the angelic host. (1-14) The conduct of Divine Providence. (15-25) A revelation of the Son of man upon his heavenly throne. (26-28)

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Ezekiel’s vision of God, and of the angelic host

1 Now it came to pass in the thirtieth year, in the fourth month, in the fifth day of the month, as I was among the captives by the river of Chebar, that the heavens were opened, and I saw visions of God.

2 In the fifth day of the month, which was the fifth year of king Jehoiachin’s captivity,

3 The word of the LORD came expressly unto Ezekiel the priest, the son of Buzi, in the land of the Chaldeans by the river Chebar; and the hand of the LORD was there upon him.

4 And I looked, and, behold, a whirlwind came out of the north, a great cloud, and a fire infolding itself, and a brightness was about it, and out of the midst thereof as the colour of amber, out of the midst of the fire.

5 Also out of the midst thereof came the likeness of four living creatures. And this was their appearance; they had the likeness of a man.

6 And every one had four faces, and every one had four wings.

7 And their feet were straight feet; and the sole of their feet was like the sole of a calf’s foot: and they sparkled like the colour of burnished brass.

8 And they had the hands of a man under their wings on their four sides; and they four had their faces and their wings.

9 Their wings were joined one to another; they turned not when they went; they went every one straight forward.

10 As for the likeness of their faces, they four had the face of a man, and the face of a lion, on the right side: and they four had the face of an ox on the left side; they four also had the face of an eagle.

11 Thus were their faces: and their wings were stretched upward; two wings of every one were joined one to another, and two covered their bodies.

12 And they went every one straight forward: whither the spirit was to go, they went; and they turned not when they went.

13 As for the likeness of the living creatures, their appearance was like burning coals of fire, and like the appearance of lamps: it went up and down among the living creatures; and the fire was bright, and out of the fire went forth lightning.

14 And the living creatures ran and returned as the appearance of a flash of lightning.

The conduct of Divine Providence

15 Now as I beheld the living creatures, behold one wheel upon the earth by the living creatures, with his four faces.

16 The appearance of the wheels and their work was like unto the colour of a beryl: and they four had one likeness: and their appearance and their work was as it were a wheel in the middle of a wheel.

17 When they went, they went upon their four sides: and they turned not when they went.

18 As for their rings, they were so high that they were dreadful; and their rings were full of eyes round about them four.

19 And when the living creatures went, the wheels went by them: and when the living creatures were lifted up from the earth, the wheels were lifted up.

20 Whithersoever the spirit was to go, they went, thither was their spirit to go; and the wheels were lifted up over against them: for the spirit of the living creature was in the wheels.

21 When those went, these went; and when those stood, these stood; and when those were lifted up from the earth, the wheels were lifted up over against them: for the spirit of the living creature was in the wheels.

22 And the likeness of the firmament upon the heads of the living creature was as the colour of the terrible crystal, stretched forth over their heads above.

23 And under the firmament were their wings straight, the one toward the other: every one had two, which covered on this side, and every one had two, which covered on that side, their bodies.

24 And when they went, I heard the noise of their wings, like the noise of great waters, as the voice of the Almighty, the voice of speech, as the noise of an host: when they stood, they let down their wings.

25 And there was a voice from the firmament that was over their heads, when they stood, and had let down their wings.

A revelation of the Son of man upon his heavenly throne

26 And above the firmament that was over their heads was the likeness of a throne, as the appearance of a sapphire stone: and upon the likeness of the throne was the likeness as the appearance of a man above upon it.

27 And I saw as the colour of amber, as the appearance of fire round about within it, from the appearance of his loins even upward, and from the appearance of his loins even downward, I saw as it were the appearance of fire, and it had brightness round about.

28 As the appearance of the bow that is in the cloud in the day of rain, so was the appearance of the brightness round about. This was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the LORD. And when I saw it, I fell upon my face, and I heard a voice of one that spake.

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G Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary

Ver. 1. And is either superfluous, as at the beginning of most of the sacred books, (C.) or shews the connection of what is written with what the prophet saw or heard internally. S. Aug. in Ps. iv. S. Greg. W. — 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 K. xxiii. Ch. W. C.) or he alludes to the era of Nabopolassur, used at Babylon, (M.) or to the last jubilee. See Sanct. The thirtieth year, from the prediction of Holda to Josias, (H.) concurs with the fifth of the prophet’s captivity. C. xvii. 12. Usher, A. 3410. — Fourth of the sacred year, (C.) on Friday, 24th July, (Usher) or in Jan. S. Jer. — Chobar, or Aboras, which runs westward into the Euphrates, above Thapsacus. Strabo. — The captives were in those parts, though not present. C. — Opened, in spirit, (H.) by faith. S. Jerom — The prophet fell prostrate. C. ii. 1. H.

Ver. 2. Captivity. Lit. “transmigration,” (H.) which is more agreeable to the Heb. &c. Jechonias delivered himself up. Six years after this, Sedecias was taken. S. Jerom.

Ver. 3. Hand; power, energy of the Holy Spirit. Theod.

Ver. 4. North, denoting the invasion of Judea by the Chaldees. Is. xiv. 31. Sanct. — 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. C. — Amber, (electri) a compound of four parts of gold and one of silver, (Pliny xxxiii. 4.) more precious than either. S. Jer. — 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. Æneid.

—–alboque orichalcho

Circumdat loricam humeris.

— Two vessels are mentioned, probably of this composition. 1 Esd. viii. 27. C.

Ver. 5. Living creatures. Cherubims, (as appears from Eccles. 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 S. Jerom, (ep. ad Paulin.) they suffered none to read it before they were thirty years old. Ch. — The pagans had many such compound figures as are here represented. Parkhurst, p. 411. H. — Sanchoniathon (ap. Eus. præp. 2.) seems to have borrowed his description from this place. — In them. They stood upright and had some parts of the human figure. C. — Indeed, it seems to have been predominant. H.

Ver. 6. 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; (C. T.) or the eagle was behind (H.) or above the head of the man, and the lion and ox at his right and left. Corn. a Lapide. M.

Ver. 7. Straight. Heb. “a straight foot.” Prot. prefer “feet.” H. — Of a calf. Aquila reads to the same import hagol, “round,” instead of hegel, (H.) “a calf.” Sym. has “winged feet,” like Mercury. C. — Sept. omit this, says S. Jerom, though we have his version of Sym. as if it belonged to the Sept.; and it occurs in Grabe as genuine. — Brass. Sept. add, “and their feathers were very light.” H.

Ver. 8. Wings. Their arms were covered with feathers, and the hand appeared at the extremity; or they had four arms under the wings. C. x. 8. They all came from the shoulders, so as to correspond with the four faced animal, v. 6. C. — Others believe that each face had four wings, so that the animal would have sixteen. Maldonat. — In Is. 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. v. 28. H.

Ver. 9. 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. C. — Sept. “And the wings of those four were touching each other, and their faces (Calmet reads with Chal. and Heb. wings) turned not,” &c. H. — 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. C. — They turned not about, (v. 12.) but having faces on every side, were ready to go any way. W.

Ver. 10. Over. This is not specified in Heb. Chal. Sept. or S. Jer. C. — “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. v. 6. H.

Ver. 11. Faces. Sept. “wings:” and indeed it does not appear how their faces were stretched upwards, (C.) unless they looked earnestly that way; though, out of respect, they covered their faces with two wings.

Ver. 14. Flashes. Heb. Bazak. H. — Theodotion retains the original. His version seems to have been inserted in the Sept. (C.) who omitted this verse, as seeming to contradict v. 9. and 12. S. Jer. — Yet it only signifies that the motion was quick as lightning, though they did not alter their situation with respect to each other.

Ver. 15. Faces. One wheel crossed another at right angles, so that it was ready to move in any direction, (v. 17. C.) like a globe. H.

Ver. 16. Sea: sky blue. Heb. “Tharsis,” which Sym. renders “the hyacinth;” a precious stone. Ex. xxviii. 20. C. — Midst. The evangelists and New Testament agree perfectly with the Old. S. Greg. hom. vi. W.

Ver. 17. 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. Ch. — Their motion was connected with the chariot. v. 20. C.

Ver. 18. Eyes, like Argus, or the tail of a peacock. C. — The eye is sometimes put for a colour. Grot.

Ver. 20. 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.

Ver. 22. Crystal, or sapphire. v. 26. C. x. 1. This shining sky was like the footstool of the Lord, and rested on eight wings. v. 9, 23.

Ver. 24. Voice. The motion of the wings made a noise like a torrent, or thunder. — God. Heb. “self-sufficient,” as Sept. &c. render it, ikanou. C. — Prot. “like the voice of the Almighty.” H. — Down; or rather ceased to make such a noise. v. 25. C.

Ver. 26. Upon it. This might be omitted, as the Vulg. has only desuper, above. H. — God was pleased to assume the shape of a man, seated on the throne.

Ver. 27. Amber, or orichalcum. v. 4.

Ver. 28. Rainbow, encircling the sky blue throne and the flame. Nothing could be more dazzling, nor better manifest the subjection of man. C. — The prophet saw four visions at once; the whirlwind, (v. 4.) the living creatures, (v. 5.) the wheels, (v. 15.) and the man seated on a throne, in the sky, v. 26. To explain all these mysteries, a large commentary would scarcely suffice. W. — 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. M. — God appears in his chariot going to war. He denounces vengeance on the guilty. C. ii. and xliii. See Corn. a Lapide. H.