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


Refs: CCoHS - Ezekiel p. 617


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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 617 


XXXVII 1-14 The Vision of Dry Bones restored to Life— This vision does not teach the resurrection of the body, though often so interpreted, but the revival of the defunct nation of Israel. The scene of the vision. was a plain near Tel-Abib already mentioned, 3:22.


1-10 The Vision—1. Render 'in spirit' and omit 'of the Lord'. Read 'men's bones' (LXX). 3. 'Shall these bones live? Omit 'dost thou think'. 5. Spirit: the breath of life. 7. 'each one to its joint': 'each to each'. 9. 'these slain that they may live'.


11-14 The Interpretation— The dry bones represent the House of Israel as politically non-existent, not the dead on the last day. The graves were the places where dispersed Israelites lived as strangers in foreign lands. The re-establishment of the exiles in their own land was the revival of the nation.


15-28 The Reunion of the Separated Kingdoms—The symbolic action of joining together two rods or sceptres signifies the reunion of the divided kingdoms of Judah and Israel which Yahweh will accomplish. They shall form a single nation, under a single ruler, the new David, in their ancestral territory. Yahweh will make an eternal alliance with them and establish his sanctuary within them. The prophecy is Messianic, spiritually fulfilled in the one true Church.


15-20 The Symbolic Action—The names written on the rods are those of the tribal ancestors, Judah and Joseph, whose descendants played the leading part in the kingdoms of Judah and Israel. 19. 'in his hand': MT 'in my hand', LXX. 'in the hand of Judah'. The ruler, David, suggests Judah.


21-28 The New Israel—21-23. The exiles shall return and form a single kingdom. 24-25. The new David shall rule over them for ever. 26-27. Yahweh will make an eternal alliance with them. 28. From his sanctuary among them he shall become known to the Gentiles.


XXXVIII-XXXIX Final Victory of Yahweh over the Pagan World—While Israel enjoys peace and prosperity in her native territory and consequently after the restoration, Gog, ruler of the northern nations, leads a mighty army against her. Yahweh protects his people by annihilating the hostile forces when they reach Palestine. The burning of the weapons, the burial of the slain, the feasting-of birds and beasts, are described. Ezechiel's chief object is to assure his hearers of Yahweh's permanent protection. He predicts at the same time in language that is largely symbolical a remote future event. The text exhibits repetitions. The feasting on the corpses should precede their burial.


XXXVIII 1-23 Gog's Invasion of Israel—The army of Gog is first described, then his designs against Israel, and finally his defeat by Yahweh. The nations mentioned are not literally the invaders but represent all the might of paganism. 1-9 Army of Gog—2. The name is possibly of Sumerian origin meaning 'darkness'. The northern regions are the regions of darkness. More probably the Gasgas, neighbours of Mosoch and Tubal south of the Black Sea, are indicated. Magog may be matGog, the land of Gog. In Gen 10:12 Magog appears with Mosoch and Tubal among the sons of Japhet. 'of him': 'against him'. Omit 4a = 29:4a (LXX). 5. 'Libyans': 'Nubians' (Put). 6. Gomer are the Cimmerians. Crimea preserves the name. On Thogorma cf. 27:14. 7. The expedition is decreed by Yahweh. 8. 'be visited': 'receive orders'; 'is returned from the sword': 'was rescued from devastation'. Israel was waste but is now inhabited.


10-17 Designs of Gog— He plans to plunder a peaceful and naturally unprotected people. 12. 'which hath begun to possess': 'who have cattle and goods', are selfsupporting, neither traders nor plunderers. The inquiries of the trading nations are explained by the fact that traders attended armies to purchase the plunder. 13. 'Dedan and their merchants, Tarshish and her traders14-16. The repetitions disturb the construction. In the latter days' (cf. 8 'after many years'): in the remote future. 17. Prophecies of the destruction of Israel's oppressors are meant. Gog only appears here.


18-23 Destruction of Gog and his Army—Yahweh  d  himself annihilates the assailants. The description of the theophany is conventional. Earth trembles, birds and fishes, men and beasts, are terrified, mountains are overturned, rocks are rent, walls collapse. The enemies slay each other, Jg 7:32; 2 Par 20:23, perish by pestilence, 4 Kg 19:35, hailstones, Jos 10:11, lightning, Gen 19:24. Brimstone is associated with lightning owing to the sulphurous odour accompanying the electrical discharge (Iliad VIII, 135; XIV, 415). 18. 'wrath': 'nostrils', an anthropomorphism omitted by LXX.


XXXIX 1-24 Sequel of the Victory—After a recapitulation of the preceding prophecy, in which the destruction of the invaders is stressed, the burning of the weapons, burial of the slain and feast of birds and beasts are described.


1-8 Recapitulation—2. MT reads 'I will drive thee  f  on' for 'I will lead thee out'. 3. The breaking of the bow is a new feature. 4. 'I will give'.6. Gog's own land will suffer and the 'islands' or coastlands of his allies. 7b. Lit. 'nor shall I suffer my holy name to be profaned '.


9-16 Burning of Weapons and Burial of the Slain—The uninterrupted peace following the victory makes weapons useless. Their use for firewood is a reprisal. 9. 'spears': 'bucklers'; 'pikes': 'spears'.11. 'the passengers': 'Abārīm, a mountain range E. of the Dead Sea. The valley is unknown. 14. Omit 'to bury' (MT) but retain 'to seek out' (LXX). Omit 16a, which is a gloss = 'Hamōnah "multitude" is also the name of a city', and cf. the last words of 15.


17-24. The Feast of Birds and Beasts—The slain are likened to a sacrificial feast provided by Yahweh. 18. 'bullocks, all fatlings of Bashan'.21-24. The causes of the exile and the restoration are set forth.


Fulfilment of the Prophecy against Gog—The prophecy will be fulfilled towards the end of a period, regarded by some as pre-Messianic. Gog then represents the Seleucids. The Messianic interpretation seems preferable as Ezechiel contemplates a Messianic restoration; cf.Apoc. 20:7. The judgement of the Gentile neighbours, chh 25-32, was the necessary prelude to the establishment of the peaceful Messianic kingdom. Gog comes from afar to plunder that kingdom already established. He and his army thus represent the forces of evil seeking vainly to destroy the Church founded by Christ.


25-28 Final Prediction of the Restoration—This  j  oracle is a summary conclusion of the restoration prophecies. 25. 'bring back the captivity': 'change the lot'. 26. 'bear' (MT): 'forget' (LXX). To bear transgressions would imply chastisement. 27-29. Yahweh's name will be sanctified by the return of the exiles, their spiritual regeneration and his abiding presence among them.


XL-XLVIII—In this last section of his book Ezechiel  492a  concludes his prophecies on the Restoration with the detailed and magnificent description of the New Temple, the New Cult and the New Holy Land. Catholic tradition has usually regarded this picture as a figurative adumbration in Jewish colouring of the Messianic Kingdom, the Church of Christ. Some modern exegetes propose a more realistic interpretation. It is difficult to suppose that a practical programme for the expected historical restoration is here presented to the exiles. The rebuilders of the temple, guided by prophets, made no attempt to realize the plan of Ezechiel. His legislation which ignored the high-priest and was sometimes at variance with the Mosaic code was never accepted as authoritative. In his description of the New Holy Land there are several features, the temple river in particular, which defy a realistic interpretation. An ideal Messianic Restoration on the lines of Isaias' picture of the New Jerusalem is less open to objection. The prince how-