SOLVING THE RIDDLE OF EZEKIEL'S WHEELS :
THE CHARIOTS OF THE CHERUBIM / THE CHAIROTS OF GOD
BY: FRANK E. CARLISLE
The purpose of this article is to address the biblical question of "angelic chariots", and to ascertain exactly what it written therein on the subject. Does the biblical text describe the physical appearance of God's angelic chariots? I believe that after your read this article, you will be able to discern the answer to this question for yourself, as the answer is resoundingly clear. Let me start by laying a biblical foundation for angelic chariots, as well as for the Chariot of God himself, both of which are referenced with various, controlling metaphors in the Old Testament, that also appear in the early interpretive writings of the Jews, Gnostic Christians, and Greeks.
The Old Testament abounds with texts that speak of how angels came to the earth in ancient times riding in heavenly vehicles that are represented metaphorically as "horses" and "chariots" of God. Psalm 68:17 is probably the most definitive example of the Old Testament "angelic chariot" texts. This Psalm addresses the chronology of the Jewish Exodus from captivity in Egypt, their encampment at Mount Sinai, and the events that transpired at that time. "The chariots of God are twenty thousand, even thousands multiplied: the Lord was among them at Sinai, in the [heavenly] Temple/Sanctuary."
There are also many Old Testament texts that speak of how certain biblical figures ascended into the heavens, and are acknowledged by biblical scholars as the "heavenly ascension" texts. One of the best, and probably most well-known examples of these texts is found in 2 Kings 2:1 and 11, which speak of the heavenly ascension of the prophet Elijah, as therein it is written in verse 1: "Now when the Lord was about to take Elijah up into the heavens by a whirlwind, Elijah and Elisha were on their was from Gilgal." Verse 11 continues with: "As they continued walking and talking, a Chariot of fire and horses of fire separated the two of them, and Elijah ascended in a whirlwind into the heavens."
There are also many references in the biblical text that speak of the Chariot in which God, himself, came to visit the earth, as is described above in 2 Kings 2 as the Chariot of fire. The reference to "horses of fire" is to the angelic "chariots of God" that accompany God's Chariot which, in the early Jewish interpretive writings is acknowledged as being a "Merkabah."
The biblical prophet, Ezekiel, metaphorically describes God's Merkabah as being a heavenly "throne" [Ez. 1:26], as the Glory of the Lord [Ez.1:28] and as "The Gory of the God of Israel" [Ez. 9:3]. The word Merkabah is derived from two Hebrew words. The first word is "merkab", which means "a chariot, and also "a seat, as in a vehicle. It is also derived from the word "rakab", which means "to ride on" or "to ride in." Accordingly, that which the prophet describes metaphorically as a "throne" and "the Glory of the Lord", is to be understood to refer to God's Merkabah, the literal translation of which is "Throne-Chaiort", and is that which God comes to the earth in visitation.. The noted Dead Sea Scroll scholar, Dr. Geza Vermes, makes the following statement about God's Merkabah: "The divine Throne-Chariot draws its inspiration from Ezekiel (1-10)…It depicts the appearance and movement of the Merkabah, the divine Chariot supported and drawn by the cherubim, which is at the same time a throne and a vehicle."
Additionally, the metaphor "Glory of the Lord" is found throughout the Old Testament, and always speaks of God's heavenly presence in a very literal sense, and as in his Throne-Chariot. On closer analysis of the Hebrew metaphor, one finds that the word "glory" gives specificity to the word, within each of those contexts. The word "glory" literally means "mass" or "substance", and variously rendered by biblical scholars as "glory, body, or house", and is therefore to be understood as beinga reference to God's heavenly House, Abode, or Dwelling Place. Thus, the Merkabah Glory of the Lord can be seen as being a Throne-Chairot that has both substance and mass, and as God's heavenly Dwelling Place.
Many of the early Jewish Merkabah related writings, as well as the early Gnositc Christian writings have their interpretational roots in Ezekiel's biblical vision of the Merkabah and the four chariots of the cherubim. Both bodies of literature represent Ezekiel's living creatures as heavenly chariots, inside of which were angelic beings. In the section that follows, I will present a wide variety of text sources, all of which represent the Merkabah and Ezekiel's living creatures, wheels within wheel, etc. as wheel-chariots.
Of all of the biblical texts that deal with the subject of heavenly chariots, none parallels the description that is found in the chapters 1 and 10 of the biblical book of the prophet Ezekiel. In these two chapters Ezekiel describes the physical appearance, operation and movement of what he describes metaphorically as "living creatures, burning coals of fire, wheels within wheels, and cherubim", all of which are synonymous terms that describe the "chariots of God." Ezekiel likens the chariots to living creatures to which he attributes various anatomical parts, each of which has a specific anatomical location and associated function.
While biblical scholarship has, for some time, supported an angelic chariot in Ezekiel, and despite the fact that the prophet renders a detailed description of their physical appearance, operation and movement, scholars have, heretofore, been unable to render a drawing of it physical appearance that is based on a viable translation of the Hebrew text. One has but to read a few of the various English Bible renderings of Ezekiel chapter 1, in order to see that each renders various areas of the text differently. One of the reasons for this is that, in ancient Hebrew, one word often has multiple meanings that at times differ vastly from each other. Another reason is that, in the Hebrew language, all words are derivatives of what are called root words. While it is not always the case, there are times when components of the root word meaning influence either the direct translation of or may influence the meaning of the word within a particular context.
In chapter 1 of the Old Testament book of Ezekiel, the prophet describes the appearance of four heavenly objects, to which he refers with the various synonymous metaphors "living creatures" [his description of an unknown technology], "burning coals of fire" [ his description of them as fiery, amber-colored coals or orbs high in the heavens], "wheels within wheels" [his description of a disc-shaped craft under which there is as spinning (turbine-like) wheel], and "cherubim" [which are acknowledged in the early writings as "the chariots of the cherubim"].
While it is the view of mainstream biblical scholarship that the four objects Ezekiel describes are "feather-winged cherubs", the voices of the past, as are reflected in early interpretive literature, paints a totally different picture, as you will see. I will now take you on a brief journey into antiquity, whereby you might be able to clearly discern the voices of both the prophet Ezekiel himself, and from those ancient people who wrote the Dead Sea Scrolls. You will soon see that the various metaphors the prophet uses to describe what he sees are indeed all synonymous, controlling metaphors, each of which shapes the theological thought and direction within the two texts. So, away we go, as far back as the year 593 B.C.
I will also let you listen to the voices of the early Greeks who made the first translation of the Hebrew biblical text into another language. As such, it is important in that it contains certain renderings that do not always follow the original Hebrew text, which scholars render to as "textual variants." The Greeks translated the entire Old Testament into what is called "Koine Greek", which is a dialectical Greek that varies from "classical Greek." The Greek Bible, which also contains the New Testament Greek books as well, is better known as the Septuagint, which scholars also refer to as LXX, which refers to the supposed number of 72 Jewish scholars who were commissioned to make the translation. That number was later rounded-off to 70, which corresponds with the numeral LXX. You will also hear the voices who write the Dead Sea Scrolls [DSS], as their voices have a great deal to say about Ezekiel's various metaphorical representations, as well as those of other early Jewish and Gnostic Christians who have something to tell us about Ezekiel's four angelic chariots.
So, away we go on our voyage into the distant past, whereby we might hear and see what the many voices tell us:
"As for the appearance of the living creatures [a flying technology he had never sees; thus it was alive and a creature], they looked like burning coals of fire…"
Dead Sea Scrolls:
"…and there were living beings inside of the coals, like burning coals of fire."
"The cherubim rose from the earth: These were the living creatures that I saw by the river of Chebar."
"…for there was a living Spirit inside of the wheels." [Biblical text: "God makes angels his ministering Spirits."]
"The appearance of the wheels and their construction…and they each had the same shape…like a wheel the middle of another wheel."
Dead Sea Scrolls:
"And when the wheels move forward the holy angels go to the back; they emerge from within the glorious wheels with the likeness of fire."
Now, listen not just to the voice of Ezekiel and the voices of ancients who wrote the Dead Sea Scrolls, but listen also to the voices of other of the early Jewish writings, as well as those of the Gnostic Christians and early Greeks of the 4th and 5th centuries A.D.
"Ben Sirah": both as the early Jewish writing and from a later Greek translation that appears as a "canonical work and part" of the Catholic Bible:
"It was Ezekiel who saw the vision of glory that God showed him above/upon the chariot of the cherubim."
"Hypostases of the Archons"; an early Gnostic Christian text:
"…the four-faced chariot of the cherubim."
Greek Septuagint [LXX]: a variant rendering from the Hebrew text in Ez. 43:3:
"…and the vision of the chariot that I saw was like the one that I saw by the river of Chebar…"
Are you beginning to get a mental picture of the "chariots, which are shaped like "wheels" inside of which there are angelic pilots, "fiery coals/orbs" in the heavens, inside of which there are living angelic beings, really are? "Listen and see", and I will tell you more about Ezekiel's four angelic "chariots!"
Ezekiel describes four angelic chariots as "living creatures" with various anatomical parts, like wings, legs, heads, etc, each of which has a corresponding anatomical location and function, all of which describe the angelic vehicles he sees first in the heavens, and then land on the ground in front of him! Read and be amazed and astounded! As you read my new Ezekiel translations, compare what the prophet describes to the "chariot" it describes, an be amazed!
Under the dome their wings were horizontal, the one [and, therefore and necessarily at an angle] the one towards the other; each one had two wings that covered [concealed] its [central, hollow] body on the one quadrant [side], and each one had two wings that covered their bodies on the other quadrant."
"Their wings bisected from the top, and two wings covered their bodies: and two of each of those wings joined one to the other [at a distal point; as two covering wings on each of four quadrants].
This represents a visual and descriptive perspective of one half of the chariot, or two of its four sides or quadrants, as such better describes a wheel-shaped chariot.
And they had a man-like hand, under their wings on their four quadrants [which describes a circular or wheel-shaped chariot].
The Hebrew word for side/s is "reva", and is derived from a root meaning "to be quadrate", thus, the "circular" or "wheel-shaped chariots" have four quadrants, or quarter-sections. Ezekiel represents this perspective in three verses. What they each describe the horizontal-extension and connection [at the distal point] of "two covering wings" on "two" of the chariot's "four quadrants" and thus describes a 180-degree view, so to speak. Accordingly, Ez.1:6 states: "And they each had four wings."
Greek variant in Ez.10:21:
Heb text: "…and they each had four wings."
Greek text: "…and they each had eight wings"
This describes the full wheel-chariot" or the "full-Montey view", as I also call it! The Greeks knew how to add! 2+2+2+2=8 Bingo! They understood the "chariots" more that present day scholars understand "feather-winged cherubs" that are clearly NOT in Ezekiel.
"Over the heads of the living creatures [chariots] was something that looked like a shining glass dome…"
"Their [hollow, arched] backs were tall and awesome, and they were encircled by round eye[-like] ports."
The back is the lower portion of the "composite dome" of Ez. 1:23; "and under the dome their wings were horizontal…" Accordingly, it is also to be understood as being a "circular" back as well. This fact is easily ascertained, my dear Watson! Is it not abundantly clear what Ezekiel describes in the text? Do not the Dead Sea Scrolls see them in the same light?
"And he said to the man clothed in linen; 'go within the spinning wheel, under the cherub."
"…and they had man-like hands under their wings on their four quadrants."
And the cherub [chariot] stretched forth a hand from within the cherubim [chariot]
"And the cherubim appeared to have a man-like hand under their wings." ["on their four quadrants" ; 1:8]
"And the man went in and stood within the spinning wheel. [Heb. "galgal", and not the word rendered in chapter 1 as wheel/e, which is "ophan". This wheel spins"! It is a rotating turbine wheel that is located on the chariot's underside! See below!
"The appearance of the wheels and their construction, was like the [sparkling, amber] color of Tarshish [a cut, amber-colored gemstone; compare to the view of the chariot in the photo rendering!]; and they each had the same [double-convex, disc] shape: and their appearance and their operation looked like a [spinning] wheel [ophan] within the middle of another wheel [ophan].
"Their legs were riding and did not bend, and looked like they were made out of highly polished brass [amber colored metal!], and the soles of their feet were hoofed and flat like those of a calf."
These voices from the past are from the biblical book of Psalms, and from a group of Jewish Literature of the Middle -Ages that speak of both God's Chariot as well as the myriad of heavenly chariots that were present at Mount Sinai, when the Israelites gathered at Mount Sinai, while Moses made his way to the top of the mountain, whereby he made his ascension into the heavens and into the God's heavenly Temple, according to a second Rabbinic tradition and my new translation of verse 18.
Psalm 68:17-18; my new translation:
"The chariots of God are twenty thousand, even thousands multiplied; the Lord was among them at Sinai, in the heavenly Temple. You [Moses] were captured and lifted away into [heavenly] captivity…"
"Twenty-two thousand chariots descended at Sinai, and each of them looked exactly like the ones Ezekiel saw."
"Twenty-two thousand chariots descended at Sinai, and each of them looked like the Merkabah."
Now I will leave you with the words of Ezekiel, by means of my new translations of what he saw from the original Hebrew text. You will see and hear very clearly what he sees and describes in the heavens, as you already understand the various metaphors he uses to describe the. Listen to his detailed description of the chariots' physical appearance, operation and movement through the heavens, as all this comes to life in your mind.
EZEKIEL CHAPTER 1:4-24: A NEW TRANSLATION **
Vs.4) "And I looked [up into the heavens], and saw a whirlwind come from out of the north; an immense cloud that was surrounded by brightness and fire flashing forth continuously in a circle, and in the middle of which there was something that looked like something like a round amber metallic object. 5) And from out of the middle of the fire there came what looked like four living creatures. This was their appearance; they had [within them] the form of a man 6) but each of them had four faces and four wings. 7) Their legs were rigid and the soles of their feet were [round and flat] like the sole of a calf's foot; and they sparkled like polished brass. 8) They each had a manlike hand [that was capable of opening and closing] under their wings on each of their four quadrants; and they each had their four faces and their four wings. 9) Their [upper and lower] wings coupled-together [as a double-convex saucer], and when they moved they did not turn their wings to either side; they just moved straight forward [in any direction]. 10) As for the likeness of their faces, they each had a humanlike face of a man in front, the face of a lion on the left quadrant, the face of an ox on the right quadrant, and the face of an eagle in the back. 11) Their [two] wings bisected [horizontally] from the top and two wings covered their bodies: and two wings of each [the upper and lower wings] joined one to the other [at a distal point]. 12) And they moved straight forward: wherever the [angelic] Spirit desired to go, the living creatures moved and, [in so doing], they did not turn [tilt their wings from a horizontal position]. 13) As for the likeness of the living creatures [as I perceived them in the heavens], they looked like, [amber-colored] burning coals of fire that had lights within them that flashed forth intermittently and the fire was bright, and from the fire there came forth [what appeared like] flashes of lightning. 14) And the living creatures darted back and forth [through the heavens] like flashes of lightning, without turning their wings [to either side] as they moved. 15) And as I looked, one of the living creatures landed/stood on the earth, [whereby I then perceived it as being] and behold, a wheel [was fastened] on the side of the four-faced living creature. 16) The appearance of the wheels and their construction was like the [sparkling, amber] color of [the gemstone] Tarshish; and they each had the same [circular] shape: and their appearance and their operation was as if there were a [spinning 10:2,6,13] wheel in the middle of a [larger] wheel. 17) And when they moved [through the heavens], they moved in any direction and in so doing, they did not turn their wings [from a horizontal position] as they moved. 18) As for their [circular, hollow backs [which looked like rings or rims] they were tall and awesome, and were encircled with [round] eyes [like ports]. 19) When the living creatures moved, the wheels [which joined to their side] moved beside them. And when the living creatures lifted up from off of the earth, the wheels also lifted up beside them. 20) Wherever the [angelic] Spirit desired to go, and the wheels rose along with them, for there was a living Spirit inside of the wheels. 21) When the living creatures moved, the wheels moved; and when the living creatures stood still [hovered] the wheels also stood, because there was a living Spirit inside of the wheels [who navigated them]. 22) And there was something that looked like an awesome, clear glass dome that spread-out over the heads of the living creatures. 23) And under the dome their wings were horizontal, the one [extended at an angle] towards the other; each of them had two wings that covered their [central, hollow] bodies on the one side [quadrant], each one had two wings that covered [concealed from view] their bodies on the other quadrant. 24) And when the living creatures moved, I heard the sound of their wings, which was like the sound of roaring water, like the voice of the Almighty, the voice of speech, like the tumultuous sound of an army: and when they stood [landed] upon the earth, they ceased their wings [from making the sound they made while in flight].
EZEKIEL CHAPTER 10: SELECTED VERSES
Vs. 2) And he spoke to the man clothed in linen and said, 'go within the spinning wheel, under the cherub. Vs. 6) When he commanded the man clothed in linen, saying: 'go within the wheel, underneath the cherubim', then he went in and stood within the spinning wheel. Vs.7) And the cherub opened his hand from within the cherubim… Vs. 8) The cherubim appeared to have a man-like hand under their wings.
I hope that you enjoyed your journey into antiquity and listening to the voices of the ancients, and to the words of the prophet Ezekiel, whose vision has inspired many of the ancients to seeking the awesome knowledge it contains. I also hope that you have learned form them, and you are now well-equipped to answer the question I ask!
So, I ask you, did the biblical prophet Elijah really, by means of the very same "whirlwind" that Ezekiel describes, literally "ascend into the heavens in a fiery chariot?"
I will leave you with some other voices of antiquity, which speak about the biblical prophet Moses and the children of Israel, and the events that transpired there, during the great Exodus from out of captivity in Egypt.
THE LOCATION AND FUNCTION OF THE CHARIOT'S ANATOMICAL PARTS*
*Each of the chariot's anatomical parts occupies a normal anatomical location and related anatomical function, unless otherwise stated in the text. There is one exception, which relates to the "encircling eyes" that are located within the chariot's "back."
||The chariot's head-portion consists of a dome that is made of a clear, crystal-like material and occupies the chariot's superior-most position. It is part of the chariot's top-mounted, composite dome, the crystal head of which serves as a rotating, navigational dome.
|The Four Faces
||Three of the four faces are insignias that are part of a circular ring-like unit that connects superiorly to the clear domed head, occupying the chariot's mid-portion, and inferiorly with stationary, hollow and arched back.The face identified as "the face of a man", or " human face", is of the chariot's angelic pilot, who sits in the chariot's navigational dome.
||The arched, hollow back occupies the lower part of the chariot's composite dome. It is encircled by eyes, which confirms the fact that it is also circular. The encircling eyes are explained below.
||The eyes surround the chariot's hollow, arched back. The eyes are round and function as ports for looking out from the chariot's hollow, top-mounted dome.
||The wings give the chariot its overall circular or wheel-like shape. The chariot has two horizontal wings on each of its four quadrants that extend at an angle, the one towards the other thus connecting together at the distal point. The wings are for flight.
|The Wheel in the middle of the wheel
||The greater wheel references the chariot's overall shape, which is circular like a wheel. The wheel in the middle of the greater wheel is a spinning, turbine-like wheel, which functions as the chariot's propulsion system.
||The body is the hollow, central portion of the chariot that is concealed by two horizontally-extended, connecting wings that present on each of the (circular) chariot's four quadrants and, like the composite dome, is an inhabitable part of the chariot. The opening hand that is located "under their wings on their four quadrants", the function of which is established below.
||The legs are straight and unbending, and provide support for the chariot while standing on the ground. Thus, they are incapable of movement or "walking" on the ground. The four legs are position underneath the chariot's wings and are attached to the chariot's body-portion which is "covered" on all four quadrants by the "two covering wings." The legs are made of a polished amber-colored metal that are likened to highly polished brass.
||The feet are round and flat, like that sole of a calf's foot, and are made of the same material as the legs. Their round, flat, beveled shape provides the chariot the ability to stand in a level position on the ground.
||The opening and closing hand is located under the chariot's wings and functions as an entrance into its hollow, central body.
|The Spirit of the Living Creature
||This references the angelic spirit(s), inhabitant(s), or living beings that are stated in the biblical text to be located "inside of the wheel." It also references the face of the man."
Oxford Annotated Bible with Apocrypha
King James Bible
The Jewish Study Bible [Oxford]
Moffatt Bible [James Moffat]
Tanakh [Jewish Bible ; Jewish Publication Society]
The Companion Bible [Kregel Publications, USA]
The Septuagint with Apocrypha [Greek and English ; Brenton]
Biblia Hebraica; Stuttgardencia
Biblia Hebraica; Leningradencia
"Faces of the Chariot; Early Jewish Responses to Ezekiel's Vision" [David Halperin]
"Ancient Near Eastern Texts Related to the Old Testament" [James Charlesworth]
From the series: "Studies in the Dead Sea Scrolls" ;"Eschatology, Messianism and the Dead Sea Scrolls" [Abegg Jr, Scott, Flint]; essay, "Merkabah Mysticism in Qumran and in Paul."
The Gnostic Scriptures [Bentley, Layton]
The Dead Sea Scrolls Study Edition [Hebrew and Aramaic texts; F.G Martinez, E Tigchellar]
The Dead Sea Scrolls Bible [Abegg Jr. Flindt and Ulrich]
Translation reference sources:
Hebrew / Aramaic [Chaldee]:
Brown, Driver, and Briggs Hebrew and English Lexicon [B.D.B]
Vine's Complete Expository Dictionary [W.E. Vine]
Strong's Concordance of the Bible [James Strong]
Gesenius' Hebrew-Chaldee Lexicon [Baker]
The Analytical Hebrew and Chaldee Lexicon [Davidson]
Smith's Bible Dictionary [Nelson]
Thayer's Greek and English Lexicon
New Testament Greek [Hewett]
COMPARATIVE TEXT REFERENCES
Ez. 1:4-5: "And I looked, and behold, a whirlwind came out of the north, a great cloud ... also, out of the midst thereof came the likeness of four living creatures." (KJV)
Ez. 1:16: "...and the four living creatures had the same form, their construction being like a wheel in the middle of a wheel." (NRSV)
Ez. 1:13: "As for the likeness of the living creatures, their appearance was like burning coals of fire, and like the appearance of lamps; it went up and down among the living creatures..." (KJV) See #7
4. 4Q385 frag. 4:11-12 "...and from the two sides of the whe[els streams of fire came out] and there were living beings in the middle of the embers (coals), like embers (coals) of fire..."
Ez. 1:21: "...when (the living creatures) they rose from the earth, the wheels rose along with them for the Spirit of the living creature was in the wheels." (NRSV)
Ez. 1:20:"Wherever the Spirit would go, they went (the living creatures), and when they rose, the wheels rose along with them; for the Spirit of the living creatures was within (inside of) the wheels." (KJV) See # 12
"…and there was a living Spirit inside of the wheels." (Moff)
Ez. 10:15: "The cherubs ascended; those were the living creatures I saw by the Chebar Canal." (Tan. / JPS)
Sirach 49:8 (Duterocanonical text) "It was Ezekiel who saw the vision of glory, which God showed him above (other translations; upon) the chariot of the cherubim." (NRSV) See #10
9. Zechariah 6:1 "And I turned and lifted up mine eyes, and looked, and four chariots came out from between [within] two mountains; and the mountains were mountains of brass." (KJV)
10. 4Q385 frag. 4:5-6 "The vision Ezekiel saw [...] the gleam of the Chariot (Merkavah) and the four Living Creatures..." (Dead Sea Scrolls Translated, F. Martinez)
11. 4Q405 frag. 6, The Angelic Liturgy—Dead Sea Scrolls) "...they do not sit down... the chariots of his glory... holy cherubim... shining ofanim (shining wheels)... the works of its angels...
12. 4Q405 frag.20-22: "...They bless the image of the Throne-Chariot (which is) above the vault of the cherubim... And when the ophanim (wheels) move forward, the holy angels go back; they emerge among (from within) the glorious wheels with the likeness of fire, the Spirits of the holy of holies. Around them, the likeness of a stream of electrum, and a luminous substance with glorious colours, wonderfully intermingled, brightly combined..."(Dead Sea Scrolls Translated)
13. Daniel 7:9b-10: "...his Throne was fiery flames, and it wheels were burning fire. And streams of fire flowed out from its presence. A thousand thousands served him and ten thousand times ten thousand stood attending him..." (NRSV)
14. Hebrews 1:6b-7: "And let all of the angels of God worship him. And of the angels he saith, Who maketh his angels Spirits, and his ministers (angels) a flame of fire."
15. Ps. 104:3: (God) "...who maketh the clouds his chariot." (KJV)
16. Ps. 68:4: "Sing to God, sing praises to his name; lift up a song to him who rides upon the clouds —his name is the Lord—be exultant before him." (NRSV)
17. Ps. 18:10: "And he rode upon a cherub, and did fly; yea, he did fly upon the wings of the wind." (KJV) See # 26
18. Ps. 99:1: "The Lord reigns, let the peoples tremble; He is enthroned above the cherubim, let the earth shake. (NASB)
19. Ps. 68:17: "The chariots of God are twenty thousands, even thousands of angels..." (KJV: or, "even thousands of thousands," NRSV)
20. Jer. 4:13: "Behold he shall come up as clouds, and his chariots shall be as a whirlwind..." (KJV)
21. Revelation 1:7: "Behold he cometh with clouds, and every eye shall see him." (KJV)
22. 1 Thes. 4:16-17: "For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a shout…then we who are alive and remain at his coming shall be caught up into the clouds to meet him in the air." (KJV)
22. 2 Kings 2:11-12: "And it came to pass, as they still went on, and talked, that, behold, there appeared a Chariot of fire, and horses of fire, and parted them both asunder; and Elijah went up by a whirlwind into heaven. And Elisha saw it, and he cried, My father, my father, the Chariot of Israel, and the horses thereof. And he saw him no more..." (KJV)
23. Jewish Midrash: In a Midrash (tradition/s) that deals with the subject of the Jewish exodus from Egyptian captivity, there is a reference to the Merkabah as being a "four-mule chariot."
24. 1 Enoch (The Legend of the Watchers, chapter 15:18; from The Book of Enoch, by Matthew Black: E.J. Brill 1985): "And I beheld and saw a lofty throne; and its appearance was like the crystals of ice and the wheels thereof were like the shining sun, and [I saw] watchers, Cherubim.
25. Isaiah 66:15: "For, behold, the Lord will come up with fire, and with his chariots like a whirlwind, to render his anger with fury, and his rebuke with flames of fire." (KJV)
26. 1 Enoch 57:1-2 (source as stated above): "And it came to pass after this that I saw a host of chariots, with men riding thereon (therein), and coming on the winds from the west, until the middle of the day. And the sound of the noise of their chariots was heard..."
27. Ez. 9:3: "Now the Glory of the God of Israel rose from above the winged creature where (Heb; above which) it had been, (and moved) towards the threshold of the Temple." (NJB)
28. Ez. 3:12-1: "Then the spirit lifted me up, and as the Glory of the Lord rose from it place, I heard behind me the sound of loud rumbling; it was the sound of the wings of the living creatures brushing against one another [that touched one another; KJV], and the sound of the wheels beside them. The spirit lifted me up and bore me away; I went in bitterness, in the heat of my spirit, for the hand of the Lord was strong upon me." (RSV)
"…and I went bitter and angry" (NJB)
29. Exodus 24:16: "And the Glory of the Lord abode (rested / stood / hovered) upon [above] Mount Sinai, and the cloud covered it for six days." (KJV)
30. Exodus 19:1: "Now the mountain of Sinai was wrapped in smoke, because the Lord [Glory of the Lord] had descended upon it in fire; the smoke went up like the smoke of a kiln, while the whole mountain shook violently." (RSV).
31. Exodus 13:2: "And the Lord [Glory of the Lord] went before them [the Israelites] by day in a pillar cloud, to lead them the way; and by night in a pillar of fire, to give them might; to go by day and night." (KJV)
JOHN MILTON: A SHORT BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH
Now read what John Milton has to say about Ezekiel's various synonymous, controlling metaphors, in his exegetical analysis of the great end-time battle of Revelation 12:7. Milton see Ezekiel's "wheels" as "chariot-wheels" with "helmeted heads" ; as flying saucers with domed heads!
Milton was the Grandson of a Catholic and the son of an Anglican; though he was destined for the church, Laud's (Laudian Anglicans a "high Anglicans, versus moderate Anglicans...there was evidently a substantial difference between the two) disciplinary measures made him a Puritan.
Milton was early on tutored by theologians, while he attended St. Paul's school in London. From there he went attended Oxford for about one year, after which time a family incident required that leave the university. He then attended Cambridge where, at age 20 he graduated with a B.A. ( he entered at age 16!). By the time that he received his B.A. degree, his intellectual pre-eminence was well known throughout the University.
While Milton had first intended on becoming a clergymen, he later changed his mind, sighting that: "tyranny had invaded the church", thus he felt that he could not adhere to the oaths and vows there, he "thought it better to preserve a blameless silence before the sacred office of speaking begun with servitude and forswearing."
Thus, he decided that he would live an independent life and, dedicate his pursuits to scholarship and literature. While Milton is best known as an English poet, he also wrote various theological treatises and, for some years, became outspoken in the "religious battles" that raged between the three main churches, outside of the Catholic church which was the high Anglican, moderate Anglican and Puritan churches. Most of their battles were related to "ecclesiastical organization." Milton wrote some stinging essays in this area. He also wrote other theological treatises, thus reflecting his strong theological background.
Certainly, as one reads Paradise Lost, one immediately becomes cognizant of his vast knowledge of the biblical instrumentum, as you yourself have been able to ascertain from the portions of the text I have thus far shared with you. Milton draws on vast and divergent biblical scriptures, as he renders his vision of the great eschatological battle of Revelation 12:7.
In my view, John Milton's Paradise Lost, should be required reading in all Seminaries, as part of the basic curriculum, and should have been incorporated into the corpus of great theological writings! I could teach a compelling class on this text, as I have been mentored by one of the best Milton scholars around; one whose list of publications is pages long. This individual is my friend and colleague Michael Lieb. We have engaged in many discussions on the text.
Any Hebrew lexicon will clearly establish that fact that a "chariot", in the general sense, is a "vehicle" and thus, Geza Vermes, a renowned DSS scholar, states that the Glory of the Lord, God's Merkabh: "is at the same time a Throne and a vehicle."
Frank Carlisle welcomes questions and/or comments. He can be contacted at: _Frankcarlisle@aol.com_
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