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


Refs: CCoHS - Ezekiel p. 607


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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 607 


day, the evil, the end, is come. 2. The four quarters of the earth indicate the whole world. The prophets frequently depict a particular judgement as part of the general judgement. 3c. 'And I will bring upon thee all thy abominations'. LXX puts 2-3 after 8-9. 5. 'Evil upon evil, behold, it comes' (slightly corrected). The word rendered 'destruction' in DV means elsewhere 'crown' or 'garland'.


10-19. The punishment is inevitable. 10b. 'The crown has sprouted, the sceptre has blossomed, pride has budded'. The reference is probably to the crowning of Sedecias, whose pride brought revolt and ruin. 11, abbreviated in LXX, is unintelligible. 12. The buyer rejoiced in satisfying his desire, the seller regretted the surrender of his possessions. They are now equal. 13. The principle is illustrated by the sale of land which returned automatically to its original owner in the jubilee year. The verse may be a gloss. 14. 'They have blown', etc. 16. 'trembling' 'mourning'.17. 'And all knees shall be weak as water 19a, 'They shall cast their silver in the street and shall regard their gold as unclean.'


20-27. The enormity of the calamity appears from the profanation of Yahweh's sanctuary and his complete abandonment of his people. 20-22. The temple with its treasures, desecrated by idolatry, shall be profaned and plundered. 'They' in 22 is indefinite. secret places': 'treasures'. 23. 'Make the chain' (MT) for binding captives. 'and they shall make' LXX). Judgement of blood means blood-guilt. 24. 'they shall possess their sanctuary': 'their holy places shall be defiled.27. Omit The king shall mourn, not in LXX. Ezechiel never calls Sedecias king. 'judgements': 'deserts'.


VIII-XI Idolatrous Worship In Jerusalem and its Punishment— In this vision dated a year and two (LXX 'one') months after the first, August 592 b.c., Ezechiel is transported in spirit to Jerusalem and there beholds: (1) various forms of idolatry practised by the citizens; (2) the slaughter of all the idolatrous worshippers by destroying angels; (3) the destruction of the city itself by fire; (4) Yahweh's abandonment of his city and sanctuary. The vision concludes with a prediction of restoration. The detailed description of the heavenly chariot, mostly borrowed from ch 1, is a redactorial addition. Ezechiel was not bodily but spiritually transported to Jerusalem. He describes supernatural visions, not a series of events.


VIII 1-18 Idolatrous Worship in Jerusalem— Four species of idolatry are mentioned: Idol worship, Animal worship, Tammuz worship and Sun worship, the first of Canaanite, the second of Egyptian and the third of Babylonian origin. Sun worship was common.


c 1-6. Transported in spirit to the northern gate of the inner court of the temple, Ezechiel looks northwards and sees in the outer court the idol of jealousy set up, as a rival of Yahweh and provoking his jealousy by receiving the cult due to him alone. The idol was most probably Ashera, the consort of Baal, set up by Manasses, 4 Kg 21:7, removed by Josias, ib. 23:6, and reinstalled by a later king. The reform of Josias like that of Ezechias was followed by an idolatrous reaction. 2. Cf. 1:27. 'of fire': 'of a man' (LXX). 3. 'he put forth'. Not the hand but the spirit of God uplifted the prophet. 'near': 'to the entry of'. The gate was a passage way with buildings on either side. 5. (After 'gate') 'the altar of the idol of jealousy'. Omit 'in the very entry' (LXX). 6. Omit' thinkest thou'. In 6, 13, 15 'turn thee' renders an auxiliary verb expressing repetitions: 'thou shalt see again'.


7-12. In Egypt divinities were commonly represented as animals. Incense was offered by the 70 elders to various Egyptian gods. 8. Digging through a wall presents no difficulty in a vision. 11. Omit 'stood' after Saaphan and 'that' after them. Jezonias, an important person, is not mentioned elsewhere. 12. For 'Each in the chamber of his image' (MT), 'Each offering incense to his image' is suggested. The elders say that Yahweh has abandoned them and they must seek help elsewhere.


13-15. Tammuz was a vegetation god, the Adonis of the Phoenicians, who was supposed to die in the heat of summer and return to life in the spring. The women lament his departure to the underworld. 14. 'in by': 'to'. The mourning took place at the northern gate of the outer court. 15a. 'Hast thou seen?'


16-18. Ezechiel, led back to the inner court, sees in the space between the temple and the altar 25 men with their backs to the temple and their faces to the east adoring the sun. 17. The sense is: Is it too little for them to perpetrate such abominations in the holy city that they fill the land with violence? The last member probably refers to idol worship in Yahweh's sanctuary.'The present their stench to my nostrils'. 'Stench' is literally 'branch'.


IX 1-10 Punishment of the Idolaters in Jerusalem— Ezechiel now beholds six destroying angels slaying, by order of Yahweh, all the idolatrous citizens, but sparing the innocent whose foreheads have been marked with a sign. 1b. Omit: 'And everyone', etc. (inappropriate). 2. The upper gate is the north gate of the inner court. In Palestine the inkhorn of the scribe is still attached to his girdle. The brazen altar erected by Solomon was removed to the north side of the temple by Achaz who put a stone altar in its place, 4 Kg 16:14. 3. 'Cherub': 'Cherubim' (LXX). 4. Tau means mark. It also indicates the last letter of the Hebrew alphabet, shaped like a cross. The text does not refer to the letter or indicate the nature of the mark. Here again Ezechiel teaches personal responsibility. Only the guilty are punished. 6. 'The ancients before the house' are the sun worshippers. 8a. 'And while they were smiting. Manifestations of pity and intercession are unusual in Ezechiel. Here they intensify the dramatic effect.


X 1-22 Destruction of the City by Fire— The account is incomplete. It is suggested that the second part was missing or illegible and a redactor filled the lacuna with a second description of the chariot. The only novelties are the names Cherub for 'living creature' and galgal for 'wheel' and the attribution to the Cherubs of the eyes which adorned the wheels. Yahweh's abandonment of his temple is also narrated.


1-7. The angel who had been ordered to mark the foreheads of the innocents is told to take of the fire in the space between the wheels of the chariot and scatter burning coals over the city. 1 is probably interpolated. It repeats 1:26 and interrupts the context. 3. The right side is the south side. 5. As the Cherubim have halted, the sound of their wings is surprising. 7. 'one cherub': 'he' (LXX), and after Cherubims' 'And he took and went forth'; cf. 2.


8-17. The Cherubs and the Wheels. 9. 'to the sight like the chrysolite stone': 'like the brightness of the topaz'. 11. 'they first': 'the first'.12. 'necks': 'backs'. 'circles': wheels'. The spirituality of the Cherubim is less apparent than in ch 1. 13. 'As for the wheels they were called in my hearing galgal'.14. 'a cherub': 'an ox'. Ezechiel gets a side view of the chariot which was on the right side of the temple and thus sees first the face of the ox. 15. 'Living creatures' is collective.


18-22. Yahweh returns to the chariot which leaves the temple passing through the cast gate. 19. 'it stood': 'they stood'. 20-21. The Cherubim are again described. 22. 'the impulse of every one to go': 'they went evry one'. Omit 'and their looks'.


XI 1-25. This chapter announces the punishment of the wicked counsellors in Jerusalem and the conversion and restoration of the exiles in Babylonia. The two episodes are similarly introduced by proverbial sayings expressing the security of the wicked citizens of Jerusalem and their contempt for the exiles. There is thus a literary connexion between them. The objection that the evil counsellors were already slain in ch 9 ignores the fact that the visions