1:4 As I watched, I noticed 1 a windstorm 2 coming from the north – an enormous cloud, with lightning flashing, 3 such that bright light 4 rimmed it and came from 5 it like glowing amber 6 from the middle of a fire. 1:5 In the fire 7 were what looked like 8 four living beings. 9 In their appearance they had human form, 10 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 11 like polished bronze. 1:8 They had human hands 12 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. 13
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. 14 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 15 – wherever the spirit 16 would go, they would go, without turning as they went. 1:13 In the middle 17 of the living beings was something like 18 burning coals of fire 19 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. 20
1:15 Then I looked, 21 and I saw one wheel 22 on the ground 23 beside each of the four beings. 1:16 The appearance of the wheels and their construction 24 was like gleaming jasper, 25 and all four wheels looked alike. Their structure was like a wheel within a wheel. 26 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, 27 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 28 would go, they would go, 29 and the wheels would rise up beside them because the spirit 30 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. 31 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, 32 glittering awesomely like ice, 33 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 34 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, 35 or the tumult 36 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. 37 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 38 like a fire enclosed all around 39 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. 40 This was the appearance of the surrounding brilliant light; it looked like the glory of the Lord. When I saw 41 it, I threw myself face down, and I heard a voice speaking.
1 tn The word הִנֵּה (hinneh, traditionally “behold”) indicates becoming aware of something and has been translated here as a verb.
3 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.”
5 tc Or “was in it”; cf. LXX ἐν τῷ μέσῳ αὐτοῦ (en tw mesw autou, “in its midst”).
6 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.
7 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.”
8 tn Heb “form, figure, appearance.”
9 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.
10 sn They had human form may mean they stood erect.
11 sn The Hebrew verb translated gleamed occurs only here in the OT.
12 tc The MT reads “his hand” while many Hebrew
13 tn Heb “They each went in the direction of one of his faces.”
14 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.
16 tn Or “wind.”
17 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.
18 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.
21 tc The MT adds “at the living beings” which is absent from the LXX.
23 tn The Hebrew word may be translated either “earth” or “ground” in this context.
24 tc This word is omitted from the LXX.
25 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).
26 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.
27 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.”
28 tn Or “wind”; the same Hebrew word can be translated as either “wind” or “spirit” depending on the context.
29 tc The MT adds the additional phrase “the spirit would go,” which seems unduly redundant here and may be dittographic.
30 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.
31 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.”
32 tn Or “like a dome” (NCV, NRSV, TEV).
33 tn Or “like crystal” (NRSV, NLT).
34 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.”
35 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.”
37 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.
39 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.