The Spaceships of Ezekiel
Are there Flying Saucers in the Bible?


Refs: CCoHS - Ezekiel p. 604


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Keywords: Catholic Commentary on Holy Scripture, history, Middle East, religion, Ezekiel, Roman Catholicism, prophecy, Christianity, Old Testament, Judaism, Protestantism, biblical prophets, Tanakh, Hebrew  Scriptures





Catholic Commentary on Holy Scripture

Ezekiel article page 604 


 479a  promised land enlarged by the conquests of David. His subjects are the twelve Jewish tribes with an admixture of alien residents. The peace of this kingdom is secured by weakening or destroying hostile neighbours, Philistia, Edom, Moab, Ammon, Tyre and Egypt. The defeat and destruction of Gog and his army after the establishment of the kingdom is an assurance of Yahweh's permanent protection. Material prosperity is indicated by the fertility and fecundity of sterile regions. The new temple is mainly a reproduction of the temple of Solomon. The new laws are Mosaic and national. The conditions of entry into the kingdom are a sincere conversion, a new heart and a new spirit. This picture of a Jewish Messianic kingdom which was never realized may have little appeal for modern readers but was undoubtedly helpful to Ezechiel's contemporaries who needed encouragement to support the trials of exile and prepare themselves for the coming restoration. There is an economy in divine revelation. The expiatory sufferings of the Messias and the exclusion from his kingdom of the Jews who rejected him did not form part of Ezechiel's message.



Composition and Authorship— The logical and for the most part chronological order of the prophecies may well suggest to the general reader that the present form of the book of Ezechiel is that which it received from its original author. A closer study reveals however in this as in other prophetical books the hand of a redactor. The text is sometimes in considerable disorder. Examples will be found in chh 4, 10 and 24. Messianic prophecies in the first part of the book are generally considered later additions (16:57-63; 20:33-44 more probably; 11:14-21; 17:22-24 less probably). Other subsequent insertions arc 3:16b-21; 27:9b-25a; 28:20-26; 39:17-20; 46:16-18. For reasons suggested by the context we may well attribute the present position of these passages to a redactor without however denying their authenticity. The present text exhibits moreover a number of minor errors, omissions, amplifications and glosses. There are also many repetitions. Most of these are explained by the fact that Ezechiel often repeats himself to impress his teaching on his hearers but some are more probably later additions.


Ancient commentators in general and among modern non-Catholics J. Herrmann, 1924, and G. A. Cooke, 1937, in particular defend the substantial authenticity of the prophecies. Only in recent times have other explanations of their origin been proposed, usually too extravagant to need refutation. Hoelscher, 1924, attributes only the poetical parts to Ezechiel and the mass of prose prophecies to a 5th cent. redactor. Torrey, 1930, regards the whole book as a pseudepigraph, composed c 230 b.c., fictionally ascribed to the time of Manasses by its original author and transformed into a post-exilic work by a redactor. Smith, 1931, makes the author a prophet who lived partly in the Northern Kingdom, partly in exile at Nineveh between 722 and 669. Both Torrey and Smith find the idolatrous reaction described by Ezechiel inexplicable after the reform of Josias and therefore transfer the prophecies which denounce it to an earlier historical period. They err in not recognizing that at a later period the same causes produced the same effect. Herntrich, 1932, assigns the promises, especially chh 40-48, to an exilic redactor and nearly all the rest of the book to a prophet who lived at Jerusalem during the years preceding the city's fall. Bertholet, 1936, develops Herntrich's theory. He locates Ezechiel first at Jerusalem during the period of threats, then somewhere in Judah where he prophesied against the Gentiles and finally in Babylonia where he predicted the restoration. He assumes that the prophet only left detached leaves and sketches of prophecies expanded into the present book by his spiritual heirs. It is difficult to believe that the prophet was unable to express himself clearly as Bertholet supposes, and to understand why his editors took such pains to conceal his long residence in Jerusalem. Ezechiel's repetitions even when accompanied by variations are particularly objected to and attributed to alternative sketches of the same prophecy. Is it not natural for a teacher to repeat himself in order to impress his teaching on his hearers? Failure to recognize the religious need of a prophet of the exile providentially supplied by Ezechiel is a fundamental error of this and similar theories.



Text and Versions— The Heb. text of Ezechiel is less  e  well preserved than that of any other OT book. Our chief help in re-establishing it is the LXX based on a Heb. text older than MT. Here as elsewhere deeper corruptions are common to MT and LXX, Frequently however the Gk text reveals a gloss or omission in MT and supplies a correction of a corrupt reading. Sometimes the context, sometimes the metre in poetical passages, establishes the superiority of the LXX reading. The qînāh metre more commonly used by Ezechiel is well known, and superfluous additions in MT, omitted by LXX, can be detected. At other times, however, the Gk translator misunderstands the Heb. text or evades a difficulty by an omission or an approximate rendering. No general rule can be given but an intelligible LXX variant is usually preferred to an unintelligible MT reading. Our knowledge of the Gk text of Ezechiel has been increased by the publication of the Chester Beatty (Ez 11-17 with lacunae) and the Scheide (Ez 19-39 with lacunae) papyri dated in the early 3rd cent. before Origen's Hexapla. The fact that the new text has some MT readings not found in our oldest and best Greek MS (B) does not in any way diminish the value of the LXX variants mentioned above. It was previously believed that three Gk translators rendered each a different part of the book. This conclusion, based on the different renderings of the divine names in the MSS, has been upset by the evidence of the Scheide papyrus. We may now ascribe more probably and naturally the whole book to a single translator. The Syriac version occasionally supports corrections derived from LXX. Vg almost invariably follows MT.


I-XXIV Threats: Chastisement of Jerusalem and Judah. I-III Introduction: First Vision and Vocation. I 1-28 The Theophany— God appears to Ezechiel in his heavenly chariot. The four living creatures, later called Cherubs, who support his throne are first described, then the chariot wheels, then the throne and finally the figure on the throne. The vision is perceived like a dream not by the outer but by the inner senses. The Cherubim have each four wings, one pair covering their bodies, the other outstretched so that the four pairs of extended wings form the four sides of a square. They have also each four faces like those of a man, an ox, a lion, and an eagle so that they can go face forward in all four directions, N. S. E. W., without turning. Each has moreover two hands under the lower wings and one leg, not jointed and round at the extremity. The legs are attached to wheels which revolve when the chariot is in motion. Each of the four wheels consists of two wheels at right angles to each other and can thus revolve in all four directions without turning. Above the Cherubim is a kind of firmament, compared to crystal, and above the firmament the figure of a man enthroned, all fiery and encompassed with a brightness resembling the rainbow.


1-3. Time and place. 1. The thirtieth year is  b  enigmatical. Suggested reckonings from the birth of Ezechiel and the reform of Josias are unparalleled. Most probably thirtieth is a corruption of the regnal year (12th or 13th) of Nabuchodonosor. 2-3. The second indication, June 593 b.c., not in the first but. in the third person, brings the date into conformity with the other dates of the book, all reckoned from the captivity of Joachin in the first year of Sedecias, 597 b.c., Nisan (March-April) being the first month o the year. The place is the Naru Kabaru, Grand Canal,