Ezekiel 1

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Ezekiel 1
Book of Ezekiel.jpg
Book of Ezekiel 30:13–18 in an English manuscript from the early 13th century, MS. Bodl. Or. 62, fol. 59a. A Latin translation appears in the margins with further interlineations above the Hebrew.
BookBook of Ezekiel
Hebrew Bible partNevi'im
Order in the Hebrew part7
CategoryLatter Prophets
Christian Bible partOld Testament
Order in the Christian part26

Ezekiel 1 is the first chapter of the Book of Ezekiel in the Hebrew Bible or the Old Testament of the Christian Bible. This book contains the prophecies spoken by the prophet/priest Ezekiel, and is one of the Books of the Prophets. In the New King James Version, this chapter is sub-titled "Ezekiel’s Vision of God",[1] and in the New International Version, "Ezekiel’s Inaugural Vision".[2] In the text, the first verse refers to "visions" (plural).[3]


The original text of this chapter was written in Hebrew language. This chapter is divided into 28 verses.

Textual witnesses[edit]

Some early manuscripts containing the text of this chapter in Hebrew are of the Masoretic Text tradition, which includes the Codex Cairensis (895), the Petersburg Codex of the Prophets (916), Aleppo Codex (10th century), Codex Leningradensis (1008).[4]

Fragments containing parts of this chapter were found among the Dead Sea Scrolls:

  • 4Q74 (4QEzekb): extant verses 10–13, 16–17, 19–24[5]
  • 11Q4 (11QEzek): extant verses 8–10[6]

There is also a translation into Koine Greek known as the Septuagint, made in the last few centuries BC. Extant ancient manuscripts of the Septuagint version include Codex Vaticanus (B; B; 4th century), Codex Sinaiticus (S; BHK: S; 4th century), Codex Alexandrinus (A; A; 5th century) and Codex Marchalianus (Q; Q; 6th century).[7]

Superscription (1:1-3)[edit]

The first three verses form a superscription of the book, containing the identity of the prophet as well as the time and place that the prophecy was received and delivered.[8] There are two distinct introductions: one in the first person (verse 1) and another in the third person (verses 2-3; the only two verses in the book written in the third person).[8]

Verse 1[edit]

Now it came to pass in the thirtieth year, in the fourth month, in the fifth day of the month, as I was among the captives by the river of Chebar, that the heavens were opened, and I saw visions of God.[9]

The first verse of the book announces that the writer received 'visions of God' while he was among the exiles 'by the river Chebar' in 'the thirtieth year'.[8] The Syriac text refers to "a vision" (singular).[10]

Rashi, a medieval French rabbi, suggests that the thirty years are counted "from the beginning of the jubilee cycle", the last of which was started "at the beginning of the eighteenth year of Josiah's reign; that is, the year that Hilkiah found the scroll" recounted in 2 Kings 22. This view is based on Seder Olam (chapter 26), and also based on Ezekiel 40:1: "In the twenty-fifth year of our exile, at the beginning of the year, on the tenth of the month," which the rabbis said (Arachin 12a) denoted the jubilee year (Leviticus 25:9), and which the prophet uses for his reference of time counting.[11] The date corresponds to July 24, 568 BCE, based on an analysis by German theologian Bernhard Lang.[12]

Verse 2[edit]

In the fifth day of the month, which was the fifth year of king Jehoiachin's captivity,[13]
  • "In the fifth day of the month, which was the fifth year": Rashi wrote that this phrase, this verse and the next are not Ezekiel's words but an added interruption.[11] The date (with unknown month) is calculated to the year 593-592 BCE, based on Lang's analysis.[12]

Verse 3[edit]

The word of the Lord came expressly unto Ezekiel the priest, the son of Buzi,
in the land of the Chaldeans by the river Chebar;
and the hand of the Lord was there upon him.[14]
  • "Came expressly" (Hebrew: היה היה): literally "is being", formed by the same word "hayah" twice; the word hayah means to "be", "become", "came to pass", "exist."[15][16]

The Vision of the Throne-Chariot (1:4-28)[edit]

Ezekiel's first vision comes when a stormy wind blew in from the north, bringing with it a shiny cloud that contains 'Yahweh's chariot borne by supernatural creatures'.[17]. These "four living creatures" are identified in Ezekiel 10:20 as cherubim.[17]

Verse 5[edit]

Ezekiel's "chariot vision", by Matthaeus Merian (1593-1650).
Also out of the midst thereof came the likeness of four living creatures.
And this was their appearance; they had the likeness of a man.[18]

Verse 10[edit]

As for the likeness of their faces, they four had the face of a man, and the face of a lion, on the right side: and they four had the face of an ox on the left side; they four also had the face of an eagle.[20]

With four faces in different directions simultaneously the creatures can move in any direction and also 'guard the blazing substance around which they stand'.[17]

Verse 16[edit]

The appearance of the wheels and their workings was like the color of beryl, and all four had the same likeness. The appearance of their workings was, as it were, a wheel in the middle of a wheel.[21]

This description (and also in verse 19) becomes the inspiration for the construction of the "Ezekiel Airship".[22]

Verse 19[edit]

And when the living creatures went, the wheels went beside them; and when the living creatures rose from the earth, the wheels rose.[23]

This description (and also in verse 16) becomes the inspiration for the construction of the "Ezekiel Airship".[22][24]

Verse 26[edit]

And above the firmament that was over their heads was the likeness of a throne,
as the appearance of a sapphire stone:
and upon the likeness of the throne was the likeness as the appearance of a man above upon it.[25]

Verse 27[edit]

Also from the appearance of His waist and upward I saw, as it were, the color of amber with the appearance of fire all around within it; and from the appearance of His waist and downward I saw, as it were, the appearance of fire with brightness all around.[28]

Ezekiel saw a human form that shines as if with "fire" (Hebrew: hasmal).[17]

Verse 28[edit]

Page with Septuagint text of Ezekiel 1:28-2:6 in Codex Marchalianus, 6th century
As the appearance of the bow that is in the cloud in the day of rain,
so was the appearance of the brightness round about.
This was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the Lord.
And when I saw it, I fell upon my face,
and I heard a voice of one that spake.[29]

The brightness surrounding the human form in Ezekiel's vision looks like a rainbow, and as soon as he saw it, Ezekiel falls prostrate, because he recognizes it as 'the appearance of the likeness of the glory' of Yahweh.[17] The whole report of the vision uses 'the unmistakable symbols of Yahweh's presence for an Israelite reader'.[17]

See also[edit]

Notes and references[edit]

  1. ^ Ezekiel 1:1-28: NKJV
  2. ^ Ezekiel 1:1-28: NIV
  3. ^ Ezekiel 1:1: NKJV
  4. ^ Würthwein 1995, pp. 35-37.
  5. ^ Ulrich 2010, pp. 584–585.
  6. ^ Ulrich 2010, p. 584.
  7. ^ Würthwein 1995, pp. 73-74.
  8. ^ a b c Galambush 2007, p. 537.
  9. ^ Ezekiel 1:1 KJV
  10. ^ Footnote a in the New King James Version
  11. ^ a b Rashi's Commentary on Ezekiel 1:1-2.
  12. ^ a b Lang, Bernhard (1981) Ezechiel. Darmstadt. Wissenschaftliche Buchgesselschaft, cited in Kee et al 2008, p. 209.
  13. ^ Ezekiel 1:2 KJV
  14. ^ Ezekiel 1:3 KJV
  15. ^ Brown, 1994 & "הָיָה".
  16. ^ Gesenius, 1979 & "הָיָה".
  17. ^ a b c d e f Galambush 2007, p. 538.
  18. ^ Ezekiel 1:5 KJV
  19. ^ Coogan 2007, pp. 1182-1184 Hebrew Bible.
  20. ^ Ezekiel 1:10 KJV
  21. ^ Ezekiel 1:10 NKJV
  22. ^ a b Peoples, Robert (July 21, 2014). "The Book of Ezekiel and the Flying Machine". The Texas Story Project. Bullock Texas State History Museum. Retrieved August 2, 2015.
  23. ^ Ezekiel 1:19 ESV
  24. ^ "Local inventor beat Wright brothers, Texas townsfolk say". CNN.com. December 17, 2002. Retrieved August 2, 2015.
  25. ^ Ezekiel 1:26 KJV
  26. ^ Brown, 1994 & "סַפִּיר".
  27. ^ Gesenius, 1979 & "סַפִּיר".
  28. ^ Ezekiel 1:27 NKJV
  29. ^ Ezekiel 1:28 KJV


External links[edit]