1:1 In the thirtieth year, 1 on the fifth day of the fourth month, while I was among the exiles 2 at the Kebar River, 3 the heavens opened 4 and I saw a divine vision. 5 1:2 (On the fifth day of the month – it was the fifth year of King Jehoiachin’s exile – 1:3 the word of the Lord came to the priest Ezekiel 6 the son of Buzi, 7 at the Kebar River in the land of the Babylonians. 8 The hand 9 of the Lord came on him there).
1:4 As I watched, I noticed 10 a windstorm 11 coming from the north – an enormous cloud, with lightning flashing, 12 such that bright light 13 rimmed it and came from 14 it like glowing amber 15 from the middle of a fire. 1:5 In the fire 16 were what looked like 17 four living beings. 18 In their appearance they had human form, 19 1:6 but each had four faces and four wings. 1:7 Their legs were straight, but the soles of their feet were like calves’ feet. They gleamed 20 like polished bronze. 1:8 They had human hands 21 under their wings on their four sides. As for the faces and wings of the four of them, 1:9 their wings touched each other; they did not turn as they moved, but went straight ahead. 22
1:10 Their faces had this appearance: Each of the four had the face of a man, with the face of a lion on the right, the face of an ox on the left and also the face of an eagle. 23 1:11 Their wings were spread out above them; each had two wings touching the wings of one of the other beings on either side and two wings covering their bodies. 1:12 Each moved straight ahead 24 – wherever the spirit 25 would go, they would go, without turning as they went. 1:13 In the middle 26 of the living beings was something like 27 burning coals of fire 28 or like torches. It moved back and forth among the living beings. It was bright, and lightning was flashing out of the fire. 1:14 The living beings moved backward and forward as quickly as flashes of lightning. 29
1:15 Then I looked, 30 and I saw one wheel 31 on the ground 32 beside each of the four beings. 1:16 The appearance of the wheels and their construction 33 was like gleaming jasper, 34 and all four wheels looked alike. Their structure was like a wheel within a wheel. 35 1:17 When they moved they would go in any of the four directions they faced without turning as they moved. 1:18 Their rims were high and awesome, 36 and the rims of all four wheels were full of eyes all around.
1:19 When the living beings moved, the wheels beside them moved; when the living beings rose up from the ground, the wheels rose up too. 1:20 Wherever the spirit 37 would go, they would go, 38 and the wheels would rise up beside them because the spirit 39 of the living being was in the wheel. 1:21 When the living beings moved, the wheels moved, and when they stopped moving, the wheels stopped. 40 When they rose up from the ground, the wheels rose up from the ground; the wheels rose up beside them because the spirit of the living being was in the wheel.
1:22 Over the heads of the living beings was something like a platform, 41 glittering awesomely like ice, 42 stretched out over their heads. 1:23 Under the platform their wings were stretched out, each toward the other. Each of the beings also had two wings covering 43 its body. 1:24 When they moved, I heard the sound of their wings – it was like the sound of rushing waters, or the voice of the Almighty, 44 or the tumult 45 of an army. When they stood still, they lowered their wings.
1:25 Then there was a voice from above the platform over their heads when they stood still. 46 1:26 Above the platform over their heads was something like a sapphire shaped like a throne. High above on the throne was a form that appeared to be a man. 1:27 I saw an amber glow 47 like a fire enclosed all around 48 from his waist up. From his waist down I saw something that looked like fire. There was a brilliant light around it, 1:28 like the appearance of a rainbow in the clouds after the rain. 49 This was the appearance of the surrounding brilliant light; it looked like the glory of the Lord. When I saw 50 it, I threw myself face down, and I heard a voice speaking.
2:3 He said to me, “Son of man, I am sending you to the house 54 of Israel, to rebellious nations 55 who have rebelled against me; both they and their fathers have revolted 56 against me to this very day. 2:4 The people 57 to whom I am sending you are obstinate and hard-hearted, 58 and you must say to them, ‘This is what the sovereign Lord says.’ 59 2:5 And as for them, 60 whether they listen 61 or not – for they are a rebellious 62 house 63 – they will know that a prophet has been among them. 2:6 But you, son of man, do not fear them, and do not fear their words – even though briers 64 and thorns 65 surround you and you live among scorpions – do not fear their words and do not be terrified of the looks they give you, 66 for they are a rebellious house! 2:7 You must speak my words to them whether they listen or not, for they are rebellious. 2:8 As for you, son of man, listen to what I am saying to you: Do not rebel like that rebellious house! Open your mouth and eat what I am giving you.”
2:9 Then I looked and realized a hand was stretched out to me, and in it was a written scroll. 2:10 He unrolled it before me, and it had writing on the front 67 and back; 68 written on it were laments, mourning, and woe.
3:4 He said to me, “Son of man, go to the house of Israel and speak my words to them. 3:5 For you are not being sent to a people of unintelligible speech 71 and difficult language, 72 but 73 to the house of Israel – 3:6 not to many peoples of unintelligible speech and difficult language, whose words you cannot understand 74 – surely if 75 I had sent you to them, they would listen to you! 3:7 But the house of Israel is unwilling to listen to you, 76 because they are not willing to listen to me, 77 for the whole house of Israel is hard-headed and hard-hearted. 78
3:8 “I have made your face adamant 79 to match their faces, and your forehead hard to match their foreheads. 3:9 I have made your forehead harder than flint – like diamond! 80 Do not fear them or be terrified of the looks they give you, 81 for they are a rebellious house.”
3:10 And he said to me, “Son of man, take all my words that I speak to you to heart and listen carefully. 3:11 Go to the exiles, to your fellow countrymen, 82 and speak to them – say to them, ‘This is what the sovereign Lord says,’ whether they pay attention or not.”
3:12 Then a wind lifted me up 83 and I heard a great rumbling sound behind me as the glory of the Lord rose from its place, 84 3:13 and the sound of the living beings’ wings brushing against each other, and the sound of the wheels alongside them, a great rumbling sound. 3:14 A wind lifted me up and carried me away. I went bitterly, 85 my spirit full of fury, and the hand of the Lord rested powerfully 86 on me. 3:15 I came to the exiles at Tel Abib, 87 who lived by the Kebar River. 88 I sat dumbfounded among them there, where they were living, for seven days. 89
3:16 At the end of seven days the word of the Lord came to me: 90 3:17 “Son of man, I have appointed you a watchman 91 for the house of Israel. Whenever you hear a word from my mouth, you must give them a warning from me. 3:18 When I say to the wicked, “You will certainly die,” 92 and you do not warn him – you do not speak out to warn the wicked to turn from his wicked deed and wicked lifestyle so that he may live – that wicked person will die for his iniquity, 93 but I will hold you accountable for his death. 94 3:19 But as for you, if you warn the wicked and he does not turn from his wicked deed and from his wicked lifestyle, he will die for his iniquity but you will have saved your own life. 95
3:20 “When a righteous person turns from his righteousness and commits iniquity, and I set an obstacle 96 before him, he will die. If you have not warned him, he will die for his sin. The righteous deeds he performed will not be considered, but I will hold you accountable for his death. 3:21 However, if you warn the righteous person not to sin, and he 97 does not sin, he will certainly live because he was warned, and you will have saved your own life.”
3:22 The hand 98 of the Lord rested on me there, and he said to me, “Get up, go out to the valley, 99 and I will speak with you there.” 3:23 So I got up and went out to the valley, and the glory of the Lord was standing there, just like the glory I had seen by the Kebar River, 100 and I threw myself face down.
3:24 Then a wind 101 came into me and stood me on my feet. The Lord 102 spoke to me and said, “Go shut yourself in your house. 3:25 As for you, son of man, they will put ropes on you and tie you up with them, so you cannot go out among them. 3:26 I will make your tongue stick to the roof of your mouth so that you will be silent and unable to reprove 103 them, for they are a rebellious house. 3:27 But when I speak with you, I will loosen your tongue 104 and you must say to them, ‘This is what the sovereign Lord says.’ Those who listen will listen, but the indifferent will refuse, 105 for they are a rebellious house.
1 sn The meaning of the thirtieth year is problematic. Some take it to mean the age of Ezekiel when he prophesied (e.g., Origen). The Aramaic Targum explains the thirtieth year as the thirtieth year dated from the recovery of the book of the Torah in the temple in Jerusalem (2 Kgs 22:3-9). The number seems somehow to be equated with the fifth year of Jehoiachin’s exile in 1:2, i.e., 593
2 sn The Assyrians started the tactic of deportation, the large-scale forced displacement of conquered populations, in order to stifle rebellions. The task of uniting groups of deportees, gaining freedom from one’s overlords and returning to retake one’s own country would be considerably more complicated than living in one’s homeland and waiting for an opportune moment to drive out the enemy’s soldiers. The Babylonians adopted this practice also, after defeating the Assyrians. The Babylonians deported Judeans on three occasions. The practice of deportation was reversed by the Persian conquerors of Babylon, who gained favor from their subjects for allowing them to return to their homeland and, as polytheists, sought the favor of the gods of the various countries which had come under their control.
3 sn The Kebar River is mentioned in Babylonian texts from the city of Nippur in the fifth century
6 sn The prophet’s name, Ezekiel, means in Hebrew “May God strengthen.”
7 tn Or “to Ezekiel son of Buzi the priest.”
8 tn Heb “Chaldeans.” The name of the tribal group ruling Babylon, “Chaldeans” is used as metonymy for the whole empire of Babylon. The Babylonians worked with the Medes to destroy the Assyrian Empire near the end of the 7th century
9 tn Or “power.”
sn Hand in the OT can refer metaphorically to power, authority, or influence. In Ezekiel God’s “hand” being on the prophet is regularly associated with communication or a vision from God (3:14, 22; 8:1; 37:1; 40:1).
10 tn The word הִנֵּה (hinneh, traditionally “behold”) indicates becoming aware of something and has been translated here as a verb.
12 tn Heb “fire taking hold of itself,” perhaps repeatedly. The phrase occurs elsewhere only in Exod 9:24 in association with a hailstorm. The LXX interprets the phrase as fire flashing like lightning, but it is possibly a self-sustaining blaze of divine origin. The LXX also reverses the order of the descriptors, i.e., “light went around it and fire flashed like lightning within it.”
14 tc Or “was in it”; cf. LXX ἐν τῷ μέσῳ αὐτοῦ (en tw mesw autou, “in its midst”).
15 tn The LXX translates חַשְׁמַל (khashmal) with the word ἤλεκτρον (hlektron, “electrum”; so NAB), an alloy of silver and gold, perhaps envisioning a comparison to the glow of molten metal.
16 tc Heb “from its midst” (מִתּוֹכָהּ, mitokhah). The LXX reads ἐν τῷ μέσῳ (en tw mesw, “in the midst of it”). The LXX also reads ἐν for מִתּוֹךְ (mitokh) in v. 4. The translator of the LXX of Ezekiel either read בְּתוֹךְ (bÿtokh, “within”) in his Hebrew exemplar or could not imagine how מִתּוֹךְ could make sense and so chose to use ἐν. The Hebrew would be understood by adding “from its midst emerged the forms of four living beings.”
17 tn Heb “form, figure, appearance.”
18 tn The Hebrew term is feminine plural yet thirty-three of the forty-five pronominal suffixes and verbal references which refer to the living beings in the chapter are masculine plural. The grammatical vacillation between masculine and feminine plurals suggests the difficulty Ezekiel had in penning these words as he was overcome by the vision of God. In ancient Near Eastern sculpture very similar images of part-human, part-animal creatures serve as throne and sky bearers. For a discussion of ancient Near Eastern parallels, see L. C. Allen, Ezekiel (WBC), 1:26-31. Ezekiel’s vision is an example of contextualization, where God accommodates his self-revelation to cultural expectations and norms.
19 sn They had human form may mean they stood erect.
20 sn The Hebrew verb translated gleamed occurs only here in the OT.
21 tc The MT reads “his hand” while many Hebrew
22 tn Heb “They each went in the direction of one of his faces.”
23 tc The MT has an additional word at the beginning of v. 11, וּפְנֵיהֶם (ufÿnehem, “and their faces”), which is missing from the LXX. As the rest of the verse only applies to wings, “their faces” would have to somehow be understood in the previous clause. But this would be very awkward and is doubly problematic since “their faces” are already introduced as the topic at the beginning of v. 10. The Hebrew scribe appears to have copied the phrase “and their faces and their wings” from v. 8, where it introduces the content of 9-11. Only “and (as for) their wings” belongs here.
25 tn Or “wind.”
26 tc The MT reads “and the form of the creatures” (וּדְמוּת הַחַיּוֹת, udÿmut hakhayyot). The LXX reads “and in the midst of the creatures,” suggesting an underlying Hebrew text of וּמִתּוֹךְ הַחַיּוֹת (umittokh hakhayyot). The subsequent description of something moving among the creatures supports the LXX.
27 tc The MT reads “and the form of the creatures – their appearance was like burning coals of fire.” The LXX reads “in the midst of the creatures was a sight like burning coals of fire.” The MT may have adjusted “appearance” to “their appearance” to fit their reading of the beginning of the verse (see the tc note on “in the middle”). See M. Greenberg, Ezekiel (AB), 1:46.
tn Lit., “like the appearance of lightning.” The Hebrew term translated “lightning” occurs only here in the OT. In postbiblical Hebrew the term refers to a lightning flash.
30 tc The MT adds “at the living beings” which is absent from the LXX.
32 tn The Hebrew word may be translated either “earth” or “ground” in this context.
33 tc This word is omitted from the LXX.
34 tn Heb “Tarshish stone.” The meaning of this term is uncertain. The term has also been translated “topaz” (NEB); “beryl” (KJV, NASB, NRSV); or “chrysolite” (RSV, NIV).
35 tn Or “like a wheel at right angles to another wheel.” Some envision concentric wheels here, while others propose “a globe-like structure in which two wheels stand at right angles” (L. C. Allen, Ezekiel [WBC], 1:33-34). The description given in v. 17 favors the latter idea.
36 tc The MT reads וְיִרְאָה לָהֶם (vÿyir’ah lahem, “and fear belonged to them”). In a similar vision in 10:12 the wheels are described as having spokes (יִדֵיהֶם, yideyhem). That parallel would suggest יָדוֹת (yadot) here (written יָדֹת without the mater). By positing both a ד/ר (dalet/resh) confusion and a ת/ה (hey/khet) confusion the form was read as וְיָרֵה (vÿyareh) and was then misunderstood and subsequently written as וְיִרְאָה (vÿyir’ah) in the MT. The reading וְיִרְאָה does not seem to fit the context well, though in English it can be made to sound as if it does. See W. H. Brownlee, Ezekiel 1-19 (WBC), 8-9. The LXX reads καὶ εἶδον αὐτά (kai eidon auta, “and I saw”), which assumes וָאֵרֶא (va’ere’). The existing consonants of the MT may also be read as “it was visible to them.”
37 tn Or “wind”; the same Hebrew word can be translated as either “wind” or “spirit” depending on the context.
38 tc The MT adds the additional phrase “the spirit would go,” which seems unduly redundant here and may be dittographic.
39 tn Or “wind.” The Hebrew is difficult since the text presents four creatures and then talks about “the spirit” (singular) of “the living being” (singular). According to M. Greenberg (Ezekiel [AB], 1:45) the Targum interprets this as “will.” Greenberg views this as the spirit of the one enthroned above the creatures, but one would not expect the article when the one enthroned has not yet been introduced.
40 tc The LXX reads “when it went, they went; when it stood, they stood.”
tn Heb “when they went, they went; when they stood, they stood.”
41 tn Or “like a dome” (NCV, NRSV, TEV).
42 tn Or “like crystal” (NRSV, NLT).
43 tc Heb “each had two wings covering and each had two wings covering,” a case of dittography. On the analogy of v. 11 and the support of the LXX, which reads the same for v. 11 and this verse, one should perhaps read “each had two wings touching another being and each had two wings covering.”
44 tn Heb “Shaddai” (probably meaning “one of the mountain”), a title that depicts God as the sovereign ruler of the world who dispenses justice. The Old Greek translation omitted the phrase “voice of the Almighty.”
46 tc The MT continues “when they stood still they lowered their wings,” an apparent dittography from the end of v. 24. The LXX commits haplography by homoioteleuton, leaving out vv. 25b and 26a by skipping from רֹאשָׁם (rosham) in v. 25 to רֹאשָׁם in v. 26.
48 tc The LXX lacks this phrase. Its absence from the LXX may be explained as a case of haplography resulting from homoioteleuton, skipping from כְּמַרְאֵה (kÿmar’eh) to מִמַּרְאֵה (mimmar’eh). On the other hand, the LXX presents a much more balanced verse structure when it is recognized that the final words of this verse belong in the next sentence.
51 sn The phrase son of man occurs ninety-three times in the book of Ezekiel. It simply means “human one,” and distinguishes the prophet from the nonhuman beings that are present in the world of his vision.
52 tc The phrase “as he spoke to me” is absent from the LXX.
53 tn Or “spirit.” NIV has “the Spirit,” but the absence of the article in the Hebrew text makes this unlikely. Elsewhere in Ezekiel the Lord’s Spirit is referred to as “the Spirit of the Lord” (11:5; 37:1), “the Spirit of God” (11:24), or “my (that is, the Lord’s) Spirit” (36:27; 37:14; 39:29). Some identify the “spirit” of 2:2 as the spirit that energized the living beings, however, that “spirit” is called “the spirit” (1:12, 20) or “the spirit of the living beings” (1:20-21; 10:17). Still others see the term as referring to an impersonal “spirit” of strength or courage, that is, the term may also be understood as a disposition or attitude. The Hebrew word often refers to a wind in Ezekiel (1:4; 5:10, 12; 12:4; 13:11, 13; 17:10, 21; 19:12; 27:26; 37:9). In 37:5-10 a “breath” originates in the “four winds” and is associated with the Lord’s life-giving breath (see v. 14). This breath enters into the dry bones and gives them life. In a similar fashion the breath of 2:2 (see also 3:24) energizes paralyzed Ezekiel. Breath and wind are related. On the one hand it is a more normal picture to think of breath rather than wind entering someone, but since wind represents an external force it seems more likely for wind rather than breath to stand someone up (unless we should understand it as a disposition). It may be that one should envision the breath of the speaker moving like a wind to revive Ezekiel, helping him to regain his breath and invigorating him to stand. A wind also transports the prophet from one place to another (3:12, 14; 8:3; 11:1, 24; 43:5).
54 tc The Hebrew reads “sons of,” while the LXX reads “house,” implying the more common phrase in Ezekiel. Either could be abbreviated with the first letter ב (bet). In preparation for the characterization “house of rebellion,” in vv. 5, 6, and 8, “house” is preferred (L. C. Allen, Ezekiel [WBC], 1:10 and W. Zimmerli, Ezekiel [Hermeneia], 2:564-65).
55 tc Heb “to the rebellious nations.” The phrase “to the rebellious nations” is omitted in the LXX. Elsewhere in Ezekiel the singular word “nation” is used for Israel (36:13-15; 37:22). Here “nations” may have the meaning of “tribes” or refer to the two nations of Israel and Judah.
56 tc This word is omitted from the LXX.
tn The Hebrew term used here is the strongest word available for expressing a covenant violation. The word is used in the diplomatic arena to express a treaty violation (2 Kgs 1:1; 3:5, 7).
57 tn Heb “sons.” The word choice may reflect treaty idiom, where the relationship between an overlord and his subjects can be described as that of father and son.
58 tc Heb “stern of face and hard of heart.” The phrases “stern of face” and “hard of heart” are lacking in the LXX.
59 tn The phrase “thus says [the
60 tn Heb “they”; the phrase “And as for them” has been used in the translation for clarity.
61 tn The Hebrew word implies obedience rather than mere hearing or paying attention.
63 sn The book of Ezekiel frequently refers to the Israelites as a rebellious house (Ezek 2:5, 6, 8; 3:9, 26-27; 12:2-3, 9, 25; 17:12; 24:3).
64 tn The Hebrew term occurs only here in the OT.
66 tn Heb “of their faces.”
67 tn Heb “on the face.”
68 sn Written on the front and back. While it was common for papyrus scrolls to have writing on both sides the same was not true for leather scrolls.
69 tn Heb “eat what you find.”
70 tc Heb “I ate,” a first common singular preterite plus paragogic he (ה). The ancient versions read “I ate it,” which is certainly the meaning in the context, and indicates they read the he as a third feminine singular pronominal suffix. The Masoretes typically wrote a mappiq in the he for the pronominal suffix but apparently missed this one.
71 tn Heb “deep of lip” (in the sense of incomprehensible).
73 tn The conjunction “but” is not in the Hebrew text, but is implied from the context.
74 tn Heb “hear.”
78 tn Heb “hard of forehead and stiff of heart.”
79 tn Heb “strong, resolute.”
80 tn The Hebrew term translated “diamond” is parallel to “iron” in Jer 17:1. The Hebrew uses two terms which are both translated at times as “flint,” but here one is clearly harder than the other. The translation “diamond” attempts to reflect this distinction in English.
81 tn Heb “of their faces.”
82 tn Heb “to the sons of your people.”
84 tc This translation accepts the emendation suggested in BHS of בְּרוּם (bÿrum) for בָּרוּךְ (barukh). The letters mem (מ) and kaph (כ) were easily confused in the old script while בָּרוּךְ (“blessed be”) both implies a quotation which is out of place here and also does not fit the later phrase, “from its place,” which requires a verb of motion.
85 tn The traditional interpretation is that Ezekiel embarked on his mission with bitterness and anger, either reflecting God’s attitude toward the sinful people or his own feelings about having to carry out such an unpleasant task. L. C. Allen (Ezekiel [WBC], 1:13) takes “bitterly” as a misplaced marginal note and understands the following word, normally translated “anger,” in the sense of fervor or passion. He translates, “I was passionately moved” (p. 4). Another option is to take the word translated “bitterly” as a verb meaning “strengthened” (attested in Ugaritic). See G. R. Driver, Canaanite Myths and Legends, 152.
86 tn Heb “the hand of the Lord was on me heavily.” The “hand of the Lord” is a metaphor for his power or influence; the modifier conveys intensity.
sn In Ezekiel God’s “hand” being on the prophet is regularly associated with communication or a vision from God (1:3; 3:14, 22; 8:1; 37:1; 40:1).
87 sn The name “Tel Abib” is a transliteration of an Akkadian term meaning “mound of the flood,” i.e., an ancient mound. It is not to be confused with the modern city of Tel Aviv in Israel.
88 tn Or “canal.”
90 sn This phrase occurs about fifty times in the book of Ezekiel.
92 sn Even though the infinitive absolute is used to emphasize the warning, the warning is still implicitly conditional, as the following context makes clear.
93 tn Or “in his punishment.” The phrase “in/for [a person’s] iniquity” occurs fourteen times in Ezekiel: here and v. 19; 4:17; 7:13, 16; 18: 17, 18, 19, 20; 24:23; 33:6, 8, 9; 39:23. The Hebrew word for “iniquity” may also mean the “punishment for iniquity.”
97 tn Heb “the righteous man.”
98 tn Or “power.”
sn Hand in the OT can refer metaphorically to power, authority, or influence. In Ezekiel God’s hand being on the prophet is regularly associated with communication or a vision from God (1:3; 3:14, 22; 8:1; 37:1; 40:1).
100 tn Or “canal.”
102 tn Heb “he.”
104 tn Heb “open your mouth.”
105 tn Heb “the listener will listen, the refuser will refuse.” Because the word for listening can also mean obeying, the nuance may be that the obedient will listen, or that the one who listens will obey. Also, although the verbs are not jussive as pointed in the MT, some translate them with a volitive sense: “the one who listens – let that one listen, the one who refuses – let that one refuse.”