And their feet were straight feet; and the sole of their feet was like the sole of a calf's foot: and they sparkled like the color of burnished brass.
1:1-14 It is a mercy to have the word of God brought to us, and a duty to attend to it diligently, when we are in affliction. The voice of God came in the fulness of light and power, by the Holy Spirit. These visions seem to have been sent to possess the prophet's mind with great and high thoughts of God. To strike terror upon sinners. To speak comfort to those that feared God, and humbled themselves. In ver. 4-14, is the first part of the vision, which represents God as attended and served by a vast company of angels, who are all his messengers, his ministers, doing his commandments. This vision would impress the mind with solemn awe and fear of the Divine displeasure, yet raise expectations of blessings. The fire is surrounded with a glory. Though we cannot by searching find out God to perfection, yet we see the brightness round about it. The likeness of the living creatures came out of the midst of the fire; angels derive their being and power from God. They have the understanding of a man, and far more. A lion excels in strength and boldness. An ox excels in diligence and patience, and unwearied discharge of the work he has to do. An eagle excels in quickness and piercing sight, and in soaring high; and the angels, who excel man in all these respects, put on these appearances. The angels have wings; and whatever business God sends them upon, they lose no time. They stood straight, and firm, and steady. They had not only wings for motion, but hands for action. Many persons are quick, who are not active; they hurry about, but do nothing to purpose; they have wings, but no hands. But wherever the angels' wings carried them, they carried hands with them, to be doing what duty required. Whatever service they went about, they went every one straight forward. When we go straight, we go forward; when we serve God with one heart, we perform work. They turned not when they went. They made no mistakes; and their work needed not to be gone over again. They turned not from their business to trifle with any thing. They went whithersoever the Spirit of God would have them go. The prophet saw these living creatures by their own light, for their appearance was like burning coals of fire; they are seraphim, or burners; denoting the ardour of their love to God, and fervent zeal in his service. We may learn profitable lessons from subjects we cannot fully enter into or understand. But let us attend to the things which relate to our peace and duty, and leave secret things to the Lord, to whom alone they belong.
The "foot" seems here to mean the lower part of the leg, including the knee, and this was "straight," i. e. upright like a man's. The "sole" is the "foot" as distinguished from the "leg," the leg terminated in a solid calf's hoof. This was suitable for a being which was to present a front on each of its four sides. Ezekiel was living in a country on the walls of whose temples and palaces were those strange mixed figures, human heads with the bodies of lions and the feet of calves, and the like, which we see in the Babylonian and Assyrian monuments. These combinations were of course symbolic, and the symbolism must have been familiar to Ezekiel. But the prophet is not constructing his cherubim in imitation of these figures, the Spirit of God is revealing forms corresponding to the general rules of eastern symbolism.
straight...: Heb. a straight foot
And their feet were straight feet,.... And they went straight forward, as in Ezekiel 1:12
; they made straight paths for their feet, and walked uprightly, according to the truth of the Gospel; did not go into crooked paths, or turn to the right hand, or the left; and having put their hand to the plough of the Gospel neither looked back, nor turned back.
And or "for"
the sole of their feet was like the sole of a calf's foot; round, and the hoof divided, and fit for treading out the corn, in which oxen were employed; denoting the firmness and constancy of ministers in their work, treading out the corn of the word for the nourishment of souls, to whom they minister. The Septuagint render it, "their feet were winged"; or "flying", as the Arabic version; in like manner as Mercury, the Heathen god, is painted: this may denote the readiness and swiftness of Gospel ministers to do their master's work; their feet being shod with the preparation of the Gospel, and so very beautiful, Ephesians 6:15. The Targum is,
"the sole of their feet as the sole of feet that are round (l), and they moved the world where they went;''
and they sparkled like the colour of burnished brass; that is, their feet; being burning and shining lights in their conversation, as well as in their doctrine; see Revelation 1:15.
(l) So R. Sol. Urbin, Ohel Moed, fol. 60. 2.And their feet were straight feet; and the sole of their feet was like the sole of a calf's foot: and they sparkled like the colour of burnished brass.
The Appearance of the Glory of the Lord. - Ezekiel 1:1-3
. Time and place of the same. - Ezekiel 1:1
. Now it came to pass in the thirtieth year, in the fourth (month), on 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. Ezekiel 1:2
. On the fifth day of the month, it was the fifth year of King Jehoiachin's captivity, Ezekiel 1:3
. The word of the Lord came to Ezekiel the priest, the son of Busi, in the land of the Chaldeans by the river Chebar; and the hand of the Lord was there upon him.
Regarding ויהי at the beginning of a book, as e.g., in Jonah 1:1, cf. the note on Joshua 1:1. The two notices of the year in Ezekiel 1:1 and Ezekiel 1:2 are closely connected with the twofold introduction of the theophany. This is described in verse first, according to its form or phenomenal nature, and then in verses second and third, according to its intended purpose, and its effect upon the prophet. The phenomenon consisted in this, that the heavens were opened, and Ezekiel saw visions of God. The heaven opens not merely when to our eye a glimpse is disclosed of the heavenly glory of God (Calvin), but also when God manifests His glory in a manner perceptible to human sight. The latter was the case here. מראות אלהים, "visions of God," are not "visiones praestantissimae," but visions which have divine or heavenly things for their object; cf. Isaiah 6:1; 1 Kings 22:19; 2 Kings 6:17. Here it is the manifestation of Jehovah's glory described in the following verses. This was beheld by Ezekiel in the thirtieth year, which, according to verse second, was in the fifth year of the captivity of Jehoiachin. The real identity of these two dates is placed beyond doubt by the mention of the same day of the month, "on the fifth day of the month" (Ezekiel 1:2 compared with Ezekiel 1:1). The fifth year from the commencement of Jehoiachin's captivity is the year 595 b.c.; the thirtieth year, consequently, is the year 625 b.c. But the era, in accordance with which this date is reckoned, is matter of dispute, and can no longer be ascertained with certainty. To suppose, with Hengstenberg, that the reference is to the year of the prophet's own life, is forbidden by the addition "in the fourth month, on the fifth day of the month," which points to an era generally recognised. In the year 625 b.c., Nabopolassar became king of Babylon, and therefore many of the older expositors have supposed that Ezekiel means the thirtieth year of the era of Nabopolassar. Nothing, however, is know of any such era. Others, as the Chaldee paraphrast and Jerome, and in modern times also Ideler, are of opinion that the thirtieth year is reckoned from the eighteenth year of the reign of Josiah, because in that year the book of the law was discovered, and the regeneration of public worship completed by a solemn celebration of the Passover. No trace, however, can elsewhere be pointed out of the existence of a chronology dating from these events. The Rabbins in Seder Olam assume a chronology according to the periods of the years of jubilee, and so also Hitzig; but for this supposition too all reliable proofs are wanting. At the time mentioned, Ezekiel found himself בּתוך הגּולה, "in the midst of the exiles," i.e., within the circuit of their settlements, not, in their society; for it is evident from Ezekiel 3:15 that he was alone when the theophany was imparted to him, and did not repair till afterwards to the residences of the settlers. Ezekiel 1:3. By the river Chebar, in the land of the Chaldees, i.e., in Babylon or Mesopotamia. The river כּבר, to be distinguished from חבור, the river of Gosan, which flows into the Tigris, see on 2 Kings 17:6, is the Mesopotamian Chabioras, ̓Αβορρας (Strabo, xvi. 748), or Χαβώρας (Ptolem. v. 18, 3), Arab. cha equals bu equals r (Edrisi Clim. iv. p. 6, ii. p. 150, ed. Jaubert and Abulf. Mesopot. in the N. Repertor. III. p. xxiv.), which according to Edrisi takes its rise from "nearly three hundred springs," near the city Ras-el-'Ain, at the foot of the mountain range of Masius, flows through Upper Mesopotamia in a direction parallel with its two principal streams, and then, turning westward, discharges itself into the Euphrates near Kirkesion. There the hand of Jehovah came upon Ezekiel. The expression יד יי' היתה על )אל( always signifies a miraculous working of the power or omnipotence of God upon a man-the hand being the organ of power in action-by which he is placed in a condition to exert superhuman power, 1 Kings 18:46, and is the regular expression for the supernatural transportation into the state of ecstasy for the purpose of beholding and announcing (cf. 2 Kings 3:15), or undertaking, heavenly things; and so throughout Ezekiel, cf. Ezekiel 3:22; Ezekiel 8:1; Ezekiel 33:22; Ezekiel 37:1; Ezekiel 40:1.
7. straight feet—that is, straight legs. Not protruding in any part as the legs of an ox, but straight like a man's [Grotius]. Or, like solid pillars; not bending, as man's, at the knee. They glided along, rather than walked. Their movements were all sure, right, and without effort [Kitto, Cyclopedia].
sole … calf's foot—Henderson hence supposes that "straight feet" implies that they did not project horizontally like men's feet, but vertically as calves' feet. The solid firmness of the round foot of a calf seems to be the point of comparison.
colour—the glittering appearance, indicating God's purity.
Their feet were straight feet - There did not seem to be any flexure at the knee, nor were the legs separated in that way as to indicate progression by walking. I have before me several ancient Egyptian images of Isis, Osiris. Anubis, etc., where the legs are not separated, nor is there any bend at the knees; so that if there was any motion at all, it must have been by gliding, not progressive walking. It is a remark of Adrian, that the gods are never represented as walking, but always gliding; and he gives this as a criterion to discern common angelic appearances from those of the gods: all other spiritual beings walked progressively, rising on one foot, while they stretched out the other; but the deities always glided without gradual progressive motions. And Heliodorus in his Romance of Theogines and Charicha, gives the same reason for the united feet of the gods, etc., and describes the same appearances.
Like the sole of a calf's foot - Before it is stated to be a straight foot; one that did not lay down a flat horizontal sole, like that of the human foot.
And they sparkled like the color of burnished brass - I suppose this refers rather to the hoof of the calf's foot, than to the whole appearance of the leg. There is scarcely any thing that gives a higher lustre than highly polished or burnished brass. Our blessed Lord is represented with legs like burnished brass, Revelation 1:15.
1:7 Feet - Their thighs, legs and feet, were of a human shape. Straight - Not bowed to this or that part, which argues weakness. The sole - That which is properly the foot. A calf's - A divided hoof spake the cleanness of the creature. They - Their feet.