Then lifted I up mine eyes, and looked
This is not a new vision, but a continuation of the former, as appears from the "ephah" seen in it: and, behold, there came out two women;
out of the same place the "ephah" did. The Targum explains these "two women" by two provinces; and Kimchi interprets them of the two tribes of Judah and Benjamin, who had been carried captive into Babylon; and others of the two kings, Jehoiakim and Zedekiah, who were the cause of the captivity; but Jarchi understands by them the Babylonians and Chaldeans, two nations as one, joined in Nebuchadnezzar's armies, which carried them captive: others think the two reformers, Ezra and Nehemiah, are meant, who were instruments of purging the Jews, returned from captivity, though but weak ones, and therefore are compared to "women"; yet what they did they did swiftly, and therefore are said to have "wings", and under the influence of the Spirit of God; hence the "wind", or "spirit" F6, is said to be in their wings; and they acted from a tender regard to the glory of God and the good of their country; and therefore their wings were like the "wings of a stork"; a bird of passage, as appears from ( Jeremiah 8:7 ) and so a fit emblem to be used in the transportation of the "ephah"; of whom Pliny F7 says, from whence they come, and whither they betake themselves, is yet unknown; and adds, there is no doubt that they come from afar; as it is plain they must, if that relation be true, which seems to have good authority, that one of these creatures, upon its return to Germany, brought a green root of ginger with it; which must come from the eastern part of the world; from Arabia, or Ethiopia, or the East Indies, where it grows F8: and as it is a bird that takes such long flights, it must have wings fitted for such a purpose; and which are taken notice of in ( Job 39:13 ) to which the wings and feather of the ostrich are compared; for so Bochart F9 there renders the word, "the wing of the ostriches rejoices, truly the wing" as of "a stork, and the feather"; or, as others, "who gave wings to the stork and ostrich?" both remarkable for their wings: and Vatablus renders the word here an "ostrich"; which, according to Pliny F11, is the largest of birds, and almost as big as a beast. In Ethiopia and Africa they are taller than a horse and his rider, and exceed the horse in swiftness; and their wings seem to be given them to help them in running; but which are not sufficient to lift them much above the earth, and so can not be meant here; but rather the stork, whose wings are black and white; and when they fly, they stretch out their necks forwards, and their feet backwards, and with these direct their course; when a tempest rises, standing on both feet, they spread their wings, lay their bill upon their breast, and turn their face that way the storm comes F12. The Targum renders it an eagle, which is the swiftest of birds, and whose wings are very strong to bear anything upon them, as they do their young, to which the allusion is, ( Deuteronomy 32:11 ) and so, if meant here, to lift up and bear away the ephah between the earth and the heaven; but the word is never used of that bird. The Harpies or Furies, with the Heathens, are represented, as women having wings F13 as these women are said to have; but these are very different women from them. Though some think the Romans, under Vespasian and Titus, are intended; but it may be that the two, perfections of God, his power and justice, in punishing men for their sins, are meant, particularly in the last times, and at the day of judgment. The power of God will be seen in raising the dead; in bringing all to judgment; in separating the wicked from the righteous, and in the execution of the sentence denounced on them: and the justice of God will be very conspicuous in the judgment and destruction of them. And the wind [was] in their wings;
they had wings, as denoting swiftness, as angels are said to have; hence Maimonides, as Kimchi observes, thought that angels are here meant; but this denotes, that though God is longsuffering, and may seem to defer judgment, which is sometimes a stumbling to the righteous, and a hardening to the wicked; yet, as this is only for the salvation of his elect, so when once the time is up, and the commission given forth, power and justice will speedily execute the sentence: and the "wind" being in their wings shows the greater swiftness and speed in the dispatch of business, and the great strength and force with which they performed it: for they had wings like the wings of a stork;
which, being a creature kind and tender, show that there is no cruelty in the displays of the power and justice of God in punishing sinners: and they lifted up the ephah between the earth and the heaven;
which denotes the visibility of the whole measure of the sins of wicked men; they will all be made manifest, and brought into judgment: and also the visibility of their punishment; they will go into everlasting punishment, in the sight of angels and men; and which will be the case of the antichristian beast, ( Revelation 17:8 ) .
F6 (xwr) "spiritus", V. L. Pagninus, Montanus, Calvin, Burkius.
F7 Nat. Hist. l. 10. c. 23.
F8 Vid. Bochart. Hierozoic. par. 2. l. 2. c. 29. col. 328, 332.
F9 Ibid. c. 16. col. 247, 248.
F11 Nat. Hist. l. 10. c. 1.
F12 Schotti Physica Curiosa, par. 2. l. 9. c. 26. p. 1162.
F13 "Harpyiae et magnis quatiunt clangoribus alas." Virgil. Aeneid. l. 3. ver. 223.