Ezekiel 1:5-14

5 and in the fire was what looked like four living creatures. In appearance their form was human,
6 but each of them had four faces and four wings.
7 Their legs were straight; their feet were like those of a calf and gleamed like burnished bronze.
8 Under their wings on their four sides they had human hands. All four of them had faces and wings,
9 and the wings of one touched the wings of another. Each one went straight ahead; they did not turn as they moved.
10 Their faces looked like this: Each of the four had the face of a human being, and on the right side each had the face of a lion, and on the left the face of an ox; each also had the face of an eagle.
11 Such were their faces. They each had two wings spreading out upward, each wing touching that of the creature on either side; and each had two other wings covering its body.
12 Each one went straight ahead. Wherever the spirit would go, they would go, without turning as they went.
13 The appearance of the living creatures was like burning coals of fire or like torches. Fire moved back and forth among the creatures; it was bright, and lightning flashed out of it.
14 The creatures sped back and forth like flashes of lightning.

Ezekiel 1:5 in Other Translations

KJV
5 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.
ESV
5 And from the midst of it came the likeness of four living creatures. And this was their appearance: they had a human likeness,
NLT
5 From the center of the cloud came four living beings that looked human,
MSG
5 Within the fire were what looked like four creatures vibrant with life. Each had the form of a human being,
CSB
5 The form of four living creatures came from it. And this was their appearance: They had human form,

Ezekiel 1:5-14 Meaning and Commentary

INTRODUCTION TO EZEKIEL

This book is rightly placed after Jeremiah; since Ezekiel was among the captives in Chaldea, when prophesied; whereas Jeremiah began to prophesy long before that captivity, and concerning it. The name of this prophet signifies, as it is commonly interpreted, "the strength of God", or "strengthened by God", as he was, and as he needed to be, having great work to do, and a perverse people to deal with; see Eze 3:8; but the learned Hillerus {a} chooses to render it, "God shall prevail"; with which compare Jer 20:7. There was a Levite of this name, of whom mention is made in 1Ch 24:16; whose name is there read "Jehezekel"; and this prophet was a priest, Eze 1:3; and both Clemens Alexandrinus {b} and Eusebius {c} cite a Jewish writer of tragedies, of the same name; which some have very wrongly thought to be the same with our prophet; but whether Ezekiel is not the same with Nazaratus or Zabratus, the master of Pythagoras, mentioned by Clemens as such, according to the opinion of some, is a matter of question; and which the learned Selden {d} seems to think probable. According to the judgment and opinion of Jerom {e}, his style is neither very eloquent, nor very rustic; but between both, and has a mixture of each. The visions he saw are very abstruse and difficult of interpretation, especially the vision of the living creatures and wheels; wherefore the Jews {f} forbad the reading of it, as well as the end of this prophecy, until persons were thirty years of age. The divine visions in this book, the whole subject matter of it, its agreement with the prophecy of Jeremiah, and the accomplishment of events predicted in it, prove the authority of it; and its divine authority has always been allowed, both by the Jewish synagogue and the Christian church. There were indeed some ancient Jewish Rabbins, who were perplexed about some things in it, and consulted about laying it aside, because of some words in it, which seemed to them to be contrary to the law of Moses; but R. Chananiah ben Goron, a very famous doctor in those times, withdrew to his chamber, and wrote a commentary, in order to remove those difficulties to satisfaction {g}. This book, in general, contains various visions the prophet saw; several threatenings against the people of the Jews; and prophecies against other nations; and an abundance of comfortable promises of the Messiah, and of blessings of grace by him; and of the state and condition of the Gospel church, and the worship of it. Josephus {h} says Ezekiel left two books written by him; one of which Athanasius {i}: or the author of the Synopsis under his name, thinks is lost; but the learned Huetius {k} is of opinion that the prophecy of Ezekiel, in the times of Josephus, was divided into two parts; the first containing the first thirty nine chapters, and the other the nine last chapters; which is not improbable. If the authorities of Epiphanius {l}, or the writer of the lives of the prophets that goes by his name, and of Isidorus {m}, are of any weight, Ezekiel was born in the land of Sarera; killed by the governor in Babylon; and buried by the people in the field of Maur or Mahurim, in the sepulchre of Shem and Arphaxad. The account R. Benjamin Tudelensis {n} gives is, that there is a synagogue of the Prophet Ezekiel by the river Euphrates; and over against the synagogue sixty towers, ; and between every tower a synagogue. In the court of the synagogue is a library; and behind it the grave of Ezekiel the son of Buzi the priest; and over it a large vault, of a beautiful building, erected by Jeconiah king of Judah, and thirty five thousand Jews, who came with him, when Evilmerodach brought him out of prison; and over the grave a lamp burns night and day. The Cippi Hebraici say {o} he was buried by, the river Hiddekel; and Menasseh ben Israel {p} affirms that he died in Babylon, and was buried there; and so Kimchi {q} says the tradition is.

{a} Onamast. Sacr. p. 224, 320, 845. {b} Stromat. l. 2. p. 344. {c} Praeper. Evangel. l. 9. c. 23. p. 436. & c. 29. p. 439. {d} De Dis Syris, Syntag. 2. c. 1. p. 210, 211. {e} Praefat. in Ezek. tom. 3. fol. 9. D. {f} Praefat. in ib. ad Eustochium, tom 5. fol. 174. G. {g} T. Bab. Sabbat, fol. 13. 2. & Taanith, fol. 17. 1, 2. & Maimon. Bartenora in Misn. Sabbat, c. 1. sect. 4. {h} Antiqu. l. 10. c. 5. sect. 1. {i} Synops. Sacr. Script. p. 134, 136. tom. 2. {k} Demonstr. Evang. Prop. 4. p. 272. {l} De Prophet. Vit. c. 9. {m} De Vit. & Mort. Sanct. c. 39. {n} Massaot, p. 78, 79. {o} P. 74. {p} De Resurrect. Mort. l. 1. c. 2. sect. 5. {q} In Ezek. xliii. 19.

\\INTRODUCTION TO EZEKIEL 1\\

This chapter contains a vision, which is the introduction to the prophet's call and commission to perform his office; in the account of which may be observed the time when it was seen, Eze 1:1,2; and the place both where the prophet was when he saw it, and the object or things that were beheld by him; and the original, form, and manner of the vision, Eze 1:3,4; next follow the particulars of it; and first, four living creatures appear, described by their general likeness, as human, Eze 1:5; and, in particular, by their faces, feet, hands, and wings, Eze 1:6-11; by their motion and progress, and the spirit by which they were influenced, Eze 1:12; and by their forms of light, brightness, and heat, in which they appeared and moved, Eze 1:13,14; and next the wheels, described by their number; for, though they seemed to be as one, they were four; and by their situation on the earth, and by the side of the living creatures, Eze 1:15; by their appearance, which was alike in them all, and as the colour of beryl, and as a wheel within a wheel, Eze 1:16, by their motion, which was on their sides, and not retrograde, Eze 1:17; by their rings or circumferences, which were high, dreadful, and full of eyes, Eze 1:18; by their dependence on the living creatures, moving as they, having the same spirit they had, Eze 1:19-21; and then a firmament is seen, described by its situation, over the heads of the living creatures; and by its colour, as the terrible crystal, Eze 1:22; by what were under it, the wings of the living creatures of which a more particular account is given, Eze 1:23,24; by what was heard from it, a voice, Eze 1:25; and by what was above it, a throne; described by its colour, as a sapphire stone; and by a person on it, who had the appearance of a man, Eze 1:26; who, in general, looked like the colour of amber; within which was the appearance of fire from his loins upwards, and from his loins downwards; the fire had a brightness round about it; and that brightness was like a rainbow in a cloud, on a rainy day; and this appearance was no other than that of a divine and glorious Person; which, when seen by the prophet, caused him, through reverence, to fall upon his face; when he heard a voice speaking to him what is recorded in the following chapter, Eze 1:27,28.

Ezekiel 1:5-14 In-Context

3 the word of the LORD came to Ezekiel the priest, the son of Buzi, by the Kebar River in the land of the Babylonians. There the hand of the LORD was on him.
4 I looked, and I saw a windstorm coming out of the north—an immense cloud with flashing lightning and surrounded by brilliant light. The center of the fire looked like glowing metal,
5 and in the fire was what looked like four living creatures. In appearance their form was human,
6 but each of them had four faces and four wings.
7 Their legs were straight; their feet were like those of a calf and gleamed like burnished bronze.
8 Under their wings on their four sides they had human hands. All four of them had faces and wings,
9 and the wings of one touched the wings of another. Each one went straight ahead; they did not turn as they moved.
10 Their faces looked like this: Each of the four had the face of a human being, and on the right side each had the face of a lion, and on the left the face of an ox; each also had the face of an eagle.
11 Such were their faces. They each had two wings spreading out upward, each wing touching that of the creature on either side; and each had two other wings covering its body.
12 Each one went straight ahead. Wherever the spirit would go, they would go, without turning as they went.
13 The appearance of the living creatures was like burning coals of fire or like torches. Fire moved back and forth among the creatures; it was bright, and lightning flashed out of it.
14 The creatures sped back and forth like flashes of lightning.
15 As I looked at the living creatures, I saw a wheel on the ground beside each creature with its four faces.
16 This was the appearance and structure of the wheels: They sparkled like topaz, and all four looked alike. Each appeared to be made like a wheel intersecting a wheel.

Cross References 12

  • 1. S Isaiah 6:2; Revelation 4:6
  • 2. ver 26; Daniel 7:13
  • 3. Ezekiel 10:14
  • 4. Ezekiel 40:3; Daniel 10:6; S Revelation 1:15
  • 5. Ezekiel 10:8
  • 6. Ezekiel 10:22
  • 7. Ezekiel 10:14; Revelation 4:7
  • 8. Isaiah 6:2
  • 9. Ezekiel 10:16-19
  • 10. S 2 Samuel 22:9
  • 11. Revelation 4:5
  • 12. S Psalms 29:7
Scripture quoted by permission.  Quotations designated (NIV) are from THE HOLY BIBLE: NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®.  NIV®.  Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica.  All rights reserved worldwide.