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


Refs: CCoHS - Ezekiel p. 605


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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 605 


flowing SE. from the Euphrates in the latitude of Babylon and re-entering it at Nippur. Tel-Abib on this canal was the chief settlement or the Jewish exiles deported with Joachin.


4. The storm-wind, dark cloud and fire or lightning are the usual accompaniments of a theophany. The vision as the harbinger of evil comes from the north, the region of darkness and calamity. 'a fire infolding it': 'a mass of fire'. 'amber': 'electrum', an amalgam of gold and silver.


d 5-14. On the Cherubim cf. Ex 25:18; 3 Kg 6:23. The Babylonian kirubu was an inferior deity who guarded the gates of temples and palaces and might be also an idol-bearer. This monster had the head of a man, the body of a lion or an ox and the wings of an eagle. A few commentators interpret faces as aspects and assimilate cherub and kirubu. But the wings —the eagle aspect—are distinguished from the faces in the description. Face-forward movement in all four directions without turning requires four faces. The figure of the cherub is based on that of the kirubu but is not a reproduction of it. 7. The jointless legs and rounded soles exclude bending and turning. 8. Omit 'on the four sides' after wings. 10. The faces express respectively the intelligence, strength, majesty and swiftness of the Cherubs. 'over': 'to'. 11. Omit 'and their faces' not in LXX and confusing. 12. The spirit of God directed the movements of the Cherubim. 13a. 'And between these living creatures appeared as it were coals of fire which burned like torches'. Omit 14 (LXX). It was the fire which flashed and moved.


15-21. The wheels rest on the ground when the chariot comes to earth. 'With four faces' (unintelligible) (LXX) 'by the four (living creatures)'. 16. 'the sea': 'topaz', lit. eye of Tarshish. The view that the wheels were not double, as already explained, but when seen in perspective seemed to be one within the other is improbable. Work means structure. 17. Parts are lit. quarters, each facing in a different direction. 18. Read 'felloes' for 'wheels' and for 'whole body'. The eyes were most probably ornaments as in a peacock's tail. Some interpret bosses instead of felloes. Directed by the spirit of God wheels and cherubs moved harmoniously in all four directions without turning. 20-21. 'spirit of life' (LXX, Vg): 'spirit of the living creatures' (MT).


22-28. The platform resting on the heads of the Cherubim is likened to the firmament, God's footstool; cf.Ex 54:20. Its firmness and colour are indicated by the comparisons. 23. MT gives the Cherubim three pairs of wings, by a dittography, rendered loosely in Vg. 'straight': 'outstretched' (LXX). The meaning is that the platform extends as far as the outstretched wings. 24. Comparisons indicate the noise of the wings when in motion. When let down they remained outstretched. Omit 25. The voice is premature and the letting down of the wings a repetition. 26. The spirituality of God is safeguarded by expressions like appearance and likeness. 27. 'amber' 'electrum'.


The theophany in Babylonia gave an important lesson to the exiles. They shared to some extent the pagan belief that the power and presence of a god were restricted to a particular region. By his majestic appearance in a foreign land Yahweh manifested his Omnipotence and Omnipresence.


h II 1-III 15 Call to the Prophetic Ministry— God announces his mission to Ezechiel, constitutes him his interpreter and finally sends him to preach to his fellow-captives at Tel-Abib. II 1-7 The Task— Ezechiel prostrates himself in fear and reverence before the glory of God. He hears a voice bidding him rise and obeys, strengthened by the spirit. The expression Son of man is equivalent to man. It occurs ninety times in Ezechiel and stresses the littleness of man compared with the greatness of God. 3. The Israelites are characterized as a rebellious people, not peoples (MT). 'my covenant': 'against me'. 4. 'And the children . . . are of', etc.


5. The condition is disjunctive; 'Whether they hear  480h  or not . . . they shall know'.6. 'Unbelievers and destroyers'. The usual rendering, briars and thorns is uncertain. 7b-c. 'whether they hear or refuse to hear, for they are a rebellious house'. House is accidentally omitted in MT.


II 8-III 3 The Message— God presents to Ezechiel a book containing lamentations, mourning and woe and orders him to eat it. We thus learn that God is the real author of what Ezechiel preaches and that the divine communications are threats of punishment. The eating of the book is not real but symbolical, since the vision affected only the internal senses. On its roll form cf. Jer 36. 8b. 'And be not rebellious like that house'.9. The prophet says a hand indeterminately to avoid anthropomorphism. III:1. 'Eat what thou findest'. 3. The book is sweet as God's gift. Cf. 'My yoke is sweet'.


III 4-11 The Sending— Ezechiel is now sent to the exiles, the recipients of his instructions. He is warned that his rebellious and hard-hearted hearers will not heed his words but is strengthened to persevere against all opposition. 5. The foreigners are 'deep of lip and heavy of tongue'. They seem to mumble and stammer. 6. Cf. Christ's words on Capharnaum and Bethsaida (Mt 11:21; 12:41). 11c. 'Whether they hear or refuse to hear'.


12-15 The Vision disappears: Ezechlel goes to Tel-Abib-12. (After 'commotion'): 'When the glory of Tahweh ascended from its place'. berûm 'in ascending' replaces bārûḵ 'blessed'. 13b. 'and the simultaneous noise of the wheels'. Omit the rest as an inappropriate repetition. 14. Ezechiel was not transported Tel-Abib but a supernatural force uplifted him spiritually and impelled him thither. His bitterness was due to reaction and a realization of the difficulties of his task. 15. Exhausted by his experiences he remained stupefied for seven days at Tel-Abib until a fresh revelation restored him to his senses.


16-21 The Prophet's Responsibility— Ezechiel is re- l markable for his teaching on personal responsibility. The subject is discussed here from the point of view of the prophet, compared to a watchman, and subsequently more fully, 14:12-23; 18:1-32; 33:1-20. Both prophet and sinner are responsible if no warning is given. Only the sinner is responsible if the warning is unheeded. The punishment contemplated is death. Prolongation of life is the reward of the prophet's fldelity and of the sinner's conversion. The habitual sinner is first considered, then the just man who sins. Conversion is equally necessary and salutary in both cases. 20. (After 'iniquity'): 'And I lay', etc. 'He shall die' is the apodosis of the first conditional clause. 'Because' begins the second clause. MT detaches 16a, date of the vision in 22 ff., from 16b, thus suggesting that this passage is a later but not inappropriate addition.


22-27 Silence and Seclusion— These verses may belong  m  to the introduction or to the first cycle of prophecies. Ezechiel is ordered to stay in his house and refrain from preaching. The binding with cords and attachment of the tongue to the palate are figurative indications of the seclusion and silence imposed. As Yahweh is the author of the mutism he must also be the author of the binding; cf. 4:8. 25. 'Bonds shall be put on thee and thou shalt be bound with them and thou shalt not go out among them' (the exiles). Yahweh as agent is sometimes unmentioned when human agents would be explicitly indicated and he alone can attain his end by imposing on his prophet a moral obligation. There is no reason to suppose that the binders were exiles who thought Ezechiel demented, still less to attribute his silence and seclusion to physical maladies, aphasia and catalepsy. The motive of the precept was the unworthiness and unpreparedness of the exiles. 'For they are a rebellious house'.


IV-XII First Cycle of Threats against Jerusalem and Judah. IV 1-V 17 Symbolical Announcement of the Siegeof Jerusalem and the Exile—