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Insights Into Ezekiel's Remarkable Merkabah Vision

Insights Into Ezekiel's Remarkable Merkabah Vision

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Published by David J. Larsen
A short article providing a key to understanding Ezekiel's vision in Ezekiel 1. What the prophet saw can be better understood when compared with the items in the Holy of Holies of the Temple.
A short article providing a key to understanding Ezekiel's vision in Ezekiel 1. What the prophet saw can be better understood when compared with the items in the Holy of Holies of the Temple.

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Published by: David J. Larsen on Jan 12, 2011
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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Insights into Ezekiel¶s Remarkable Merkabah Vision
David J. LarsenIn Ezekiel, chapter 1, the prophet experiences an amazing theophany that has inspiredand perplexed readers for centuries. Ezekiel was privileged to see the ³Merkabah´, the flyingchariot-throne of God, and ³upon the likeness of the throne was the likeness as the appearance of a man above upon it´ (Ezek 1:26).In the account that we have of this vision, we read of a whirlwind, fire, living creatures,wheels, a firmament, and other complex images. Attempts to depict what Ezekiel was seeinghave been varied (and sometimes rather amusing). Early Jewish and Christian writers wereenamored with Ezekiel¶s vision, and much time and effort was dedicated to pondering itsmysteries (as can be seen in the
and the
for example). Looking pastthe symbolic expressions, scholars have recognized in Ezekiel¶s Merkabah the essential elementsof Solomon¶s Temple, which had been destroyed. If we are to understand what Ezekiel wasseeing, we must look to the Temple!Hebrew University¶s Rachel Elior analyzes the similarity betweenthe Merkabahimagery and the Temple setting. The winged cherubim of the Holy of Holies (1 Kgs 6:23±29, 8:6-7; compare Ezek. 1:5±11), the stands in the Temple court with their copper wheels (I Kings 7:27±30, 33; compare 1:10, 13-16), the four threesomes of creaturesfacing all four points of the compass, the lions, oxen, cherubim, and
(wheels) --all madeof burnished bronze ± 
This article was originally published June 4, 2008 on my blog,www.heavenlyascents.com, athttp://www.heavenlyascents.com/2008/06/04/understanding-ezekiels-remarkable-merkabah-vision/ 
became four sacred winged creatures, sparkling with that same bronze luster, withthe faces of lions, oxen, eagles, and human beings. They stood on four wheels (Heb.
which had the appearance of ³two wheels cutting through each other´ andfaced all four points of the compass (Ezek 1:4±11, 16±21
, like their counterparts inthe Temple. The gold
plated winged cherubim in the sanctuary, whose wings wereextended and ³touched each other´, and which stood on their feet, weretransformed in Ezekiel¶s vision into sacred, sparkling, winged creatures, ³each of whose wings touched those of the other´ (Ezek 1:9
and whose legs ³were fused intoa single rigid leg´ (Ezek 1:7
their appearance was ³like burning coals of fire«´(Ezek 1:13
. There is thus a whole system of correlations between the ideal pictureof the destroyed earthly Temple and the visionary Temple revealed in heaven(Rachel Elior,
The Three Temples,
trans. David Louvish
Oxford: The LittmanLibrary of Jewish Civilization, 2004

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