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


Refs: CCoHS - Ezekiel p. 614


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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 614 


ensign' (after 'sail') is excluded by the metre and by the fact that Egyptian and Phoenician ships had no ensign. Egyptian linen šēš was superior to the Syrian byssus. Elisha is most probably Alashiya, usually identified with Cyprus. 8-9a. 'The princes [LXX] of Sidon and Arwad Were thy rowers, The sages of Simirra were in thee, They were thy pilots, The ancients of Gebal were in thee, They were thy caulkers'. Simirra is a conjectural emendation of MT Tyre. Phoenician cities: Arwad and Simirra in the north, Gebal (Byblos) in the centre, Sidon in the south, put their skilled men at Tyre's disposal.


9b-25a Commerce of Tyre—9b. 'thy factors in thee to exchange thy wares'.10. Nations that gave Tyre military aid are first mentioned, Lud are not Lydians but an African people. Put (DV 'Lybians') is Punt on the southern shores of the Red Sea. 11. for gammādîm (Vg Pygmaei?) LXX reads šōmerîm 'watchmen' (in thy towers). 'quivers': 'shields'.12-24. The list of peoples is mainly geographical: Tarshish in the far west—Ionia, Tubal, Mosoch in Asia Minor— Thogorma in Armenia—Rhodes, etc. in the Greek Archipelago—Edom, Judah, Israel, Damascus—Uzal, Dedan, Kedar, Saba, Ra'ma, in Arabia—Harran, Kanneh (Calne ?), Eden (Bit-Adini), Assur in Mesopotamia—Media in the far east. 12. Tarshish supplied silver, iron, tin, lead. 13. Ionia, Tubal, Mosoch gave slaves and bronze vessels. 14. Thogorma sent draught horses, war horses and mules. 15. Rhodes (LXX) and the Archipelago provided horns of ivory and ebony, evidently as middlemen. 16. Edom (LXX) supplied carbuncles, purple, brocade, fine linen, corals and rubies. 17. Judah and Israel gave wheat, honey, oil, balm and probably tragacanth gum and wax. 18. Damascus sent wine of Ḥelbon (modern Khelbŭn) and wool of Sokhar (unknown). 19. Omit Dan and Greece and interpret 'Mosel' as = from Uzal usually identified with San'a in Yemen. Its products were wrought iron, cassia and calamus. 20. Dedan (el-'Ola) supplied saddle-cloths. 21. Arabia and Kedar sent lambs, rams and he-goats. 22. Saba and Ra'ma gave the choicest spices, gold and precious stones. 23. Saba is a textual corruption. Render 'Chalmed' as 'all the Medes'.24. Costly garments, violet and embroidered robes, carpets of many colours, strong and well-twisted cords were Mesopotamian wares. 25a. 'The ships of Tarshish carried thy wares'.



25b-36 Wreck of the Ship—25b. 'Thou didst fill thyself and wert heavy-laden In the midst of the sea.26. 'south': 'east'.27. Cargo and crew: riches, wares, sailors, pilots, caulkers, traders, warriors, sink with the ship. 28. 'At the loud cry of thy pilots The coasts [?] tremble'.29-32. Other crews leave their ships, make mourning, and intone a lament for Tyre. 34. 'Now thou art wrecked on the sea In the midst of the waters. Thy wares and all thy multitude Have perished with thee'.35. The Mediterranean peoples are stupefied, their kings are terrified. 36. Rival trading nations rejoice. Metre requires 'clap their hands' before 'and hiss at thee'.


XXVIII 1-26 Third Prophecy against Tyre: Sin and Chastisement of the Prince of Tyre—The prince of Tyre is here regarded less as an individual than as an embodiment of the state; cf.Is 14:4-23. The first part of the elegy, 1-10, is more realistic and better preserved than the second, 11-19, in which the metre is scarcely recognizable. A short oracle on Sidon, 20-23, and a prediction of the restoration of Judah, 24-26, complete the chapter.


1-10 Pride and Humiliation of the Prince—2. In his pride he thought himself a god and his island capital the throne of a god. 3. 'Wert thou not wiser than Daniel?'; cf. 14:14. 'None of all the sages equalled thee'. 4a. 'By thy wisdom and thy understanding thou hast gotten thee riches'. 5. Wisdom in trading enterprises provided the riches on which his pride is based. 7. 'strongest': 'most ferocious'. 8. 'They shall bring thee down into the pit, thou shalt die the death of the slain in the midst of the sea'. 9. His death will show that he is a man. 10. 'Uncircumcised': godless. Death without funeral rites was a great calamity.


11-19 Elegy on the Prince— He is fancifully invested  r  with prerogatives denied to mortals. 12. He is a perfect seal-ring on God's hand, exercising divine authority. 'Full of wisdom' is an unmetrical addition. 13. 'In Eden, God's garden, thou wert, All precious stones was thy garment'. He is Adam before the fall. The list of precious stones, recalling EX 28:17-20, is scarcely authentic. 14. 'In the day of thy creation with the Cherubim I placed thee. Thou wert on the mountain of the gods, thou walkedst in the midst of stones of fire' (LXX). The prince is in paradise with the Cherubim, its guardians, and on the mountain in the north where the gods assemble; cf. Is 14:13. Ezechiel poetically uses pagan mythology in his imaginative description. The exact symbolism of the stones of fire is unknown. 15. The prince's state of perfection endured until he sinned. 16. Then God expelled (lit. profaned) him from the mountain of the gods and the guardian Cherub banished him from the midst of the stones of fire. 17. Beauty produced pride and pride the loss of wisdom, the folly of sin. 18. 'sanctuaries': 'holiness'; 'will bring': 'brought'; 'will make' 'made'.


20-26. The chastisement of Sidon, mother city of the  s  Phoenicians, by pestilence and the sword is briefly predicted. The removal of Israel's enemies is the prelude to the Restoration. 24. 'stumbling-block of bitterness': 'pricking brier'. 25. God will manifest his sanctity to the Gentiles by restoring Israel. This section seems to be an afterthought.


XXIX 1-16 First Prophecy against Egypt: Ruin and  488a  Restoration—The prophecy is dated the 12th of Tebet (Dec.-Jan.) 588-587. The pride of the Pharaoh, who is compared to a sea-monster, shall be humbled. Egypt, a weak reed to Israel, shall be devastated and restored, but not to her former greatness.


1-5 The Sea-Monster— Cf.Is 27:1. 2b. 'of': 'against'. 3c. 'The rivers are mine. I made them' (LXX). The sea-monster, depicted as a crocodile, will be removed from his natural element and cast into the desert, the prey of birds and beasts. 4. 'bridle': 'hooks'. 5. 'gathered together': 'buried'.


6-12 The Weak Reed— Egypt is denounced as a weak  c  and unstable ally of Israel. 6. 'Staff': support. 7. 'shoulder': 'hand' (LXX). 9c. The Pharaohs claimed divinity. 10. (After 'sword'): 'from Migdol to Syene', from N. to S. This Migdol was a fort on the NE. boundary. Syene: modern Assuan. 12. Forty years, not understood strictly, was also the period of Judah's dispersion.


13-16 The Restoration— Egypt shall be restored but  d  not to her former greatness. 14. 'I shall change the lot of Egypt and bring them back to the land of Patros' (Upper Egypt). 16. The Egyptians will no longer deceive the Israelites by an alliance but will remind them of their iniquity when they turned after them. A weak neighbour is no obstacle to the Messianic restoration.


17-21 Second Prophecy against Egypt: Conquest of  e  Nabuchodonosor—This is the latest of the dated prophecies, March 571. Nabuchodonosor, Yahweh's servant, is given the land of Egypt as the payment of his unrequited labours in the long and arduous siege of Tyre. The riches of Tyre which he failed to capture will be compensated by the riches of Egypt. 19. 'multitude': 'riches'. 20. 'Horn': strength. The Babylonian conquest of Egypt in 568 b.c. made his fellow-exiles more ready to accept Ezechiel's teaching.


XXX 1-19 Third Prophecy against Egypt: The Day  f  of Yahweh—This undated prophecy depicts the fate of Egypt on the day when all the nations are judged; cf. Is ch 13. 3. The time (of the nations) is the day of judgement. 4. The wounded are those hors de combat, whether dead or wounded. 'multitude': 'riches'. The foundations are the neighbouring nations who fought in Egypt's armies. 5. On Put and Lud cf. 27:10.