Ezekiel’s Vision of the Wheels
PARABLES: INFOLDING FIRE, LIVING CREATURES AND WHEELS
1 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 Chebar, that the heavens were opened, and I saw visions of God.
2 In the fifth day of the month, which was the fifth year of king Jehoiachin’s captivity,
3 the word of Jehovah came expressly unto Ezekiel the priest, the son of Buzi, in the land of the Chaldeans by the river Chebar; and the hand of Jehovah was there upon him.
1-3. Prophecy concerning the Lord in respect to the Word. P. P.
The Divine truth is the Word, and its quality, are described by the Cherubs in Ezekiel I, IX, and X; and as none can know what is signified by the particulars in their description but one to whom the spiritual sense has been opened, it has for this reason been disclosed to me what is signified, in brief, by all the things which are related concerning the Cherubs in the first chapter in Ezekiel, which are these: the external Divine sphere of the Word is described in verse 4; it is represented as a man verse 5; conjoined with spiritual and celestial things verse 6; the natural of the Word its quality verse 7; the spiritual and the celestial, of the Word, conjoined with its natural, their quality verses 8. 9· The Divine love of the celestial the spiritual, and the natural good and truth therein, severally and together verses 10, 11; they regard one end verse 12; the sphere of the Word from the Lord’s Divine good and Divine truth, from which the Word is living verses 13· 14; the doctrine of good and truth in the Word and from the Word verses 15- 21 ; the Divine of the Lord above the Word and in it verses 22. 23; and from it verses 24. 25; the Lord is above the heavens verse 26; Divine love and Divine Wisdom are His verses 27. 28. These summaries have all been collated with the Word in heaven, and are in conformity with it. S. 97.
The Divine truth in the Word, and its quality are described by Cherubs in Ezekiel Chapters I, IX, and X, and as no one can know what is signified by the particulars of the description of them, except one to whom the spiritual sense has been opened, and as this has been disclosed to me, it shall briefly be told what is signified by all those things related concerning the four animals or cherubs in the first chapter of Ezekiel, which are these: the external Divine sphere of the Word is described verse 4; it is represented as a man verse 5; conjoined WIth spiritual and celestial things verse 6; the natural of the Word, its quality verse 7; the spiritual and celestial of the Word conjoined to the natural, their quality verses 8. 9; the Divine love of good and truth, celestial, spiritual, and natural therein, distinctly and together verses 10. 11; that they regard one end verse 12; the sphere of the Word from the Lord’s Divine good and Divine truth from which the Word lives verses 13. 14; the doctrine of rood and truth in and from the Word verses 15-21; the Lord’s Divine above and in it verses 22. 23, and (rom it verses 24. 25; that the Lord is above the heavens verse 26; that Divine love and Divine wisdom are His verses 27. 28. This is a summary. The animals in chapter first are the same with the cherubs. In Chapter I they are called animals, but in Chapter X, cherubs, and they were like these, a lion, an ox, a man, and an eagle. In the Hebrew language they are there called “chajoth,” which word indeed signifies animals, but it is derived from “chaja” which is life. R. 239.
4 And I looked, and, behold, a stormy wind came out of the north, a great cloud, with a fire infolding itself, and a brightness round about it, and out of the midst thereof as it were glowing metal, out of the midst of the fire.
4 By the cherubim here mentioned is meant the Lord’s providence or guard, that He may not be approached otherwise than by the good of love, hence also by cherubim are mentioned the heavens, specifically, the inmost or third heaven is meant, because the angels of that heaven receive Divine truth in the good of love, wherefore it is Divine truth, which, in its essence, is the good of love, which defends. This Divine truth, as it descends out of the inmost heaven into the inferior heavens, and at length into the world where men are, thus by degreees, from pure becomes more dense, and hence it is that in the lowest degree it appears as a cloud. E. 594.
The Divine external sphere of the Word. P. P .
4, 6, 23, 24. That wings in these passages stand for truth Divine is evident from each particular of the description, as well from this, that the wings were erect the one toward the other, as from this, that they covered their bodies, and that the sound of them was heard like the sound of great waters, like the noise of wheels, and like the voice of Shaddai, and also that the likeness of the hands of a man was under their wings. That the wings were erect one toward the other represented the consociation of all in the Divine; that they covered their bodies signified that the Divine truth was a covering to the Divine good from which it proceeds. For’ the Divine good is a flame, and the Divine truth a light therefrom, encompassing and thus covering the flame. The flame itself is not seen in heaven, but only the light in which the flame is, which is thus perceived as heat, that is love. That a sound was heard like the sound of great waters signifies the quality of Divine truth in heaven; in like manner its voice like the voice of Shaddai, for voice and sound are attributed to Divine truth. It is therefore said the voice of great waters, because waters are truths. Also the voice of wheels, because wheels are truths of doctrine, for the reason that chariots are doctrines of truth. Also the voice of God Shaddai, because God Shaddai is truth chiding in temptations and afterwards consoling. The likeness of the hands of a man under the wings signified the omnipotence which belongs to Divine truth, because hands are power, and in the supreme sense omnipotence, when they are attributed to the Lord. From these things it may be evident what was represented by the wings of the cherubim which were over the mercy seat that was upon the ark of the covenant, and by their being spread out on high, and covering the mercy seat. For continuation see Chapter XVII., 3-8. A. 8764.
The wings here mentioned signify the Divine spiritual, which is the Divine truth of the Lord in His celestial kingdom. This appears from each particular of the description. The wings being four signifies the Divine spiritual of that kingdom; their wings being stretched upward and touching each other, signifies the consociation and conjunction of all who are in that kingdom by the Lord; the wings covering their bodies, signifies the Divine spiritual encompassing the Divine celestial; the noise of their wings being heard as the noise of great waters, and as the noise of wheels, and as the voice of Shaddai, and this noise being heard even to the outer court signifies the quality of the Divine spiritual, or of the Divine truth in the ultimate heaven, for sound or voice is predicated of truth. Waters also signify truths, and the perception of them; wheels signify the truths of doctrine, because a chariot signifies doctrine. God Shaddai stands for truth rebuking in temptations, and afterwards consoling; the outer court stands for the ultimate heaven; the likeness of human hands under the wings signifies the power of the Divine truth. E. 283.
4, 13, 26, 27. By the cherubim, which were seen as living creatures, is understood the Lord as to Divine providence, and as a guard that He may not be approached except by the good of love. Inasmuch as this guard is in the heavens, and especially in the inmost or third heaven, this heaven is also signified by the cherubim. As the Lord is above the heavens, therefore the Lord also was seen upon a throne above the cherubim. The fire seen in the midst of the cherubim, with brightness round about, and lightnings thence proceeding, also about the throne, and from the loins of Him that sat on the throne, upwards and downwards, it is evident, signifies Divine love celestial; for the Lord himself is Divine love, and whatever proceeds from the Lord, proceeds from His Divine love. It is therefore evident that this is signified by the fire which had brightness round about it. E. 504
5 And out of the midst thereof came the likeness of four living creatures. And this was their appearance: they had the likeness of a man.
6 And every one had four faces, and every one of them had four wings.
5 A representative of it as a man. P P.
5, 6. And this was the appearance of the likeness of four living creatures, they had the likeness of a man, and everyone had four faces and everyone had four wings. By the four cherubim are signified the guard and providence of the Lord, lest the superior heavens should be approached unless by the good of love. E.280.
5, 6, 10, 13, 22, 26, 27, 28. That they are cherubim which are here understood by the four animals appears in Ezekiel, see Chapter X, 15-20., by whom were similar things, to Revelation, Chapter IV, 6-8, seen by the river Chebar. By these representatives is descnbed the Divine of the Lord in the superior heavens, and His provIdence to prevent their being approached unles? by the good of love and of charity; and in that descnptlion are contained all the things mentioned in Chapter IV of the Revelation, concerning the arrangements of the heavens, and are signjfied by the throne upon which one sat in appearance like a jasper and sardine stone. E. 277·
5, 13, 14, 15, 19. So fully does the wild animal signify what is living, that the cherubims, or angels, seen by Ezekiel, are called the four wild animals, or living creatures. A.908
That the four animals are seraphim or cherubim is plain in Ezekiel. A. 2921 .
5, 13, 14, 15, 22. The four animals which were cherubim are called from the Hebrew expression chajah in the plural, which on account of the idea of the wild and ferocious adhering to the word wild beast (fera) in the Latin: the translators have called animals. E. 388.
6 Conjunction of celestial and spiritual things there. P. P.
7 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 burnished brass.
7 Four animals or cherubim were seen by Ezekiel whose feet sparkled like the appearance of burnished brass In this place brass represents natural good, for the foot of a man signifies the natural. A. 425.
The animalls seen by Ezekiel, which were cherubs, are described as to celestial and spiritual things, among other things, by their faces and wings, but as to natural things, by feet, which are said to have gleamed like burnished brass, because brass signifies natural good. A. 2162.
The cherubim stand for the guardianship of the providence of the Lord to prevent any approach to Himself except through good. External or natural good was represented by the straight foot, and by the sole of the foot being like the sole of a calf’s foot, for the feet signify those things which are of the natural man, the straight foot those which are of good, and the sole of the feet those which are lowest in the natural man. The heels, the soles, the hoofs, and the claws stand for the lowest things in the natural man. The reason why the soles or hoofs of the feet gleamed like the appearance of burnished brass, was that brass signifies natural good, and brass gleaming as though burnished, signifies good resplendent from the light of heaven, which is truth Divine proceeding from the Lord. By a calf is signified the good of the external or natural man. A. 9391.
Truth Divine or the Lord in ultimates is meant by the arms and the feet being like the shining of burnished brass, also by the voice of the Lord’s words being like the voice of a multitude. A. 9406.
The natural Divine good is signified by the feet. The angels and cherubs were thus seen, because the Lord’s Divine was represented in them. R. 49.
The feet of the cherubim appeared glittering as the brightness of polished brass. Brass signifies natural good. All the metals in the Word signify goods and truths. R. 775.
The cherubs, by which is understood the Lord in regard to providence and protection, were seen by Ezekiel: “Their feet sparkled as the splendor of polished brass.” E. 69.
The reason why their right foot was thus seen was, because the cherubim represented the Divine guard of the Lord, and the feet and soles of the feet represented the same in ultimates, or in the spiritual natural heaven, and in the natural world. For by the feet in general is signified the natural, by the right foot the natural as to good. By the sole the ultimates therein, and polished brass likewise signifies good in the natural. Good in the natural is also signified by the calf, by which is represented the ultimate good, which guards and defends lest the heavens should be approached except by the good of love and charity. E. 279.
The quality of the natural of the Word. P. P.
8 And they had the hands of a man under their wings on their four sides; and they four had their faces and their wings thus:
9 their wings were joined one to another; they turned not when they went; they went every one straight forward.
10 As for the likeness of their faces, they had the face of a man; and they four had the face of a lion on the right side; and they four had the face of an ox on the left side; they four had also the face of an eagle.
11 And their faces and their wings were separate above; two wings of every one were joined one to another, and two covered their bodies.
8, 9. Its spiritual and celestial which are conjoined. P. P.
10 That no other than heavenly things were signified by the animals, may also be evident from the cherubs seen by Ezekiel. A. 2180.
In the description of the likeness of the faces of the four animals, the face of the eagle is circumspection, and thence Divine providence; for the cherubs, which are represented by the animals, signify the providence of the Lord, lest man should enter into the mysteries of faith of himself and from his rational. Eagle when predicated of man is, in the internal sense, the rational; and this for the reason that the eagle flies high, and from above has a broad view of the things that are below. A. 3901.
The signification of a lion is the good of love, and truth thence derived. A. 6367.
The guard and providence of the Lord is described by the four animals, each of which had four faces, under the throne on which the Lord was. A. 9509.
The reason why the face of the man and of the lion were seen on the right side, is, because by man is signified Divine truth in light and intelligence, and by lion Divine truth thence in power, such as it is in heaven in the south; and the face of the ox being seen on the left side signifies the good of truth in obscurity, for by an ox is signified the good of the natural man, which is in obscurity with those who in heaven dwell to the north. E. 600.
10, 11. The love of spiritual good and truth, and the love of natural good and truth, their distinction and oneness. P. P.
12 And they went every one straight forward: whither the spirit was to go, they went; they turned not when they went.
12 The turning or looking of all toward one. P. P.
12, 20. The life of man varies according to his state, therefore by spirit is meant the varying affection of life with man. L. 48.
13 As for the likeness of the living creatures, their appearance was like burning coals of fire, like the appearance of torches: the fire went up and down among the living creatures; and the fire was bright, and out of the fire went forth lightning.
13 Fire stands for love. Cold signifies no love and no charity, and heat or fire signifies love, or charity and faith. A. 934·
13, 14. Describing the cherubim, where fire stands for the good of love, and lightning going forth out of the fire for truth Divine therefrom. The Divine providence of the Lord is there described by the cherubim, which is truth Divine proceeding from the Divine good of the Lord. A. 8813.
The sphere of the Word from Divine good and Divine truth, from which is the life of the Word. P. P.
13, 21, 27, 28. When the Lord appeared in vision, He appeared as fire and flame. Everything contained in this vision is significative and representative of something Divine. The holy arcanum contained in it is that cherubim are the providence of the Lord, a throne by heaven, properly the Divine truth proceeding from the Lord, which forms heaven. The appearance of a man upon the throne above is the Lord as to the Divine Human. That loins are marriage love and hence all celestial love, which love was represented by the appearance of burning coal, as the appearance of tire, which had a brightness round about. A. 6832.
14 And the living creatures ran and returned as the appearance of a flash of lightning.
15 Now as I beheld the living creatures, behold, one wheel upon the earth beside the living creatures, for each of the four faces thereof.
16 The appearance of the wheels and their work was like unto a beryl: and they four had one likeness; and their appearance and their work was as it were a wheel within a wheel.
17 When they went, they went in their four directions: they turned not when they went.
18 As for their rims, they were high and dreadful; and they four had their rims full of eyes round about.
19 And when the living creatures went, the wheels went beside them; and when the living creatures were lifted up from the earth, the wheels were lifted up.
20 Whithersoever the spirit was to go, they went; thither was the spirit to go: and the wheels were lifted up beside them; for the spirit of the living creature was in the wheels.
21 When those went, these went; and when those stood, these stood; and when those were lifted up from the earth, the wheels were lifted up beside them: for the spirit of the living creature was in the wheels.
15, 21. By the four living creatures which were cherubs is signified the providence of the Lord, by the wheels Divine intelligence or foresight; therefore it is said that the wheels went together with the living creatures, and that their rings were full of eyes, also that the splrit of the living creature was within them, that is, the truth of wisdom. A. 8215.
The doctrine of good and truth acting in unity with the Word. P. P.
16 The beryl signifies spiritual love of truth. The wheels of the cherubim signify the same as the arms the feet with man, namely, the power of acting and of moving forward, which is the power of truth from good. Their appearance was like the beryl stone, which stands for truth from spiritual good, which truth has power. A. 9872.
22 And over the head of the living creature there was the likeness of a firmament, like the terrible crystal to look upon, stretched forth over their heads above.
23 And under the firmament were their wings straight, the one toward the other: every one had two which covered on this side, and every one had two which covered on that side, their bodies.
24 And when they went, I heard the noise of their wings like the noise of great waters, like the voice of the Almighty, a noise of tumult like the noise of a host: when they stood, they let down their wings.
25 And there was a voice above the firmament that was over their heads: when they stood, they let down their wings.
22 By the sea of glass is signified the Word in the sense of the letter, and by the wonderful crystal the Divine spiritual in heaven. E. 931.
22, 23. The Divine above and in the Word. P. P.
23, 24. The Word is signified by the four animals, and by wings power. We read that the wings of the cherubs kissed each other, and that they also covered their bodies, and that the likeness of hands was under them. By kissing each other is signified to act conjointly and unanimously; by covering the bodies is signified to keep guard lest the interior truths, which are those of the spiritual sense of the Word, should be violated; by the hands under the wings are signified powers. By six is signified all as to truth and good, for six arises from three and two multiplied, and by three is signified all as to truth, and by two all as to good. R. 245.
23 Jehovah stands for good, and Shaddai for truth. By wings in the Word, in the internal sense, are signified that which is of truth. A. 1992.
By the cherubs the Word is signified, and thus the Divine truth, from which the Lord speaks. The Lord speaking through heaven by Divine truth. R. 614.
A camp (host) in the spiritual sense signifies all
things of the church, which rank themselves among its truths and goods. R. 862.
By waters in the Word are signified Divine truths, therefore speech is sometimes heard from heaven as the sound of waters flowing. E. 854.
24-25. It is Divine truth, and its influx. P. P.
26 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 a likeness as the appearance of a man upon it above.
27 And I saw as it were glowing metal, as the appearance of fire within it round about, from the appearance of his loins and upward; and from the appearance of his loins and downward I saw as it were the appearance of fire, and there was brightness round about him.
28 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 Jehovah. And when I saw it, I fell upon my face, and I heard a voice of one that spake.
26 See Chapter I, 13. A. 934.
The Lord was seen as a Man by the prophets. A. 49.
One who does not know what the several expressions represent, and hence signify, cannot but believe that the Lord has a throne as kings have on earth, and that there are such things as here mentioned; yet there are not such objects in the heavens, but they are so presented to view before those who are in the lowest heaven and from them, as from pictures, they see Divine arcana. The Lord’s royalty, by which is represented the Divine truth that proceeds from Him, was also represented by the throne constructed by Solomon. A. 5313.
A stone in general signifies truth, and a precious stone truth shining through from the Divine of the Lord. A sapphire stone stands for truth translucent from internal truths. A. 9407.
The external of the celestial kingdom is described by a sapphire, for that which is above the expanse, or round about it, denotes what is without; the inmost being denoted by “him that sitteth upon the throne.” A. 9873·
By the expanse above the head of the cherubs is rneant heaven. R. 14,
The reason why the throne appeared in the aspect a sapphire stone, was, because a sapphire signifies the Divine truth of the Lord proceeding from His Divine good, and thus spiritual truth transparent Irorn celestial good. E. 253,
That the Lord was seen above the cherubim as a man, is expressly confirmed by the prophet Ezekiel. E.280.
The Lord is understood by Him that sat upon the throne. E. 297·
The Lord above the heavens. P. P.
26, 28. It must be evident to everyone that it is the Lord was thus seen, and also that by Him was represented heaven for He is heaven, that is, all in all of heaven. He is the Man spoken of, the throne is the burning coal as the appearance of fire from the loins, and upward is the celestial of love. The brightness as of fire round about from the loins downward, as the bow in the cloud, is the celestial spiritual. Thus the celestial heaven, or the heaven of celestial angels, is represented from the loins upward and the spiritual heaven, or the heaven or spiritual angels, is represented from the loins downward. For what is below, from the loins even through the feet to the soles, in the Greatest Man, signifies what is natural. It is evident that the natural of man thus illuminated by spiritual light from the Lord, appear as a bow in the cloud. A. 1042.
This was representative of the Lord and of His kingdom. The appearance of the loins upward and of the loins downward has reference to His love. The signification of fire is love. Brightness and a rainbow mean wisdom and intelligence from the Divine love. A. 3021.
The Divine truth was also represented by the brightness as of a rainbow in a cloud round about the cherubim and above them. A. 5922.
There was an appearance of fire and a rainbow and of brightness round about. These are called the glory of Jehovah, and of the God of Israel. A. 7091.
The Lord’s Divine spiritual is also signified by the rainbow. The throne signifies heaven, the Man upon it the Lord, by the fire of His loins celestial love and by the rainbow Divine truth spiritual, which also is of His Divine wisdom. R. 466.
The thighs and loins signify marriage love, and as that love is the fundamental love of all loves, they therefore signify the good of love. R. 830.
By the cherubim are described providence and guard lest the Lord should be approached otherwise than by the good of love. Therefore there appeared a throne, and upon the throne the appearance of a Man. By the throne is signified the universal heaven, and by the Man upon the throne the Lord Himself. By thr color of amber as the appearance of fire round about within it from the appearance of his loins even upward, is signified celestial Divine love, which reigns the superior heavens, for the superior heavens are represented by the superior part of the body. The loins correspond to the marriage of good and tru th, whence it is that heaven is called a marriage, and that the Lord is called bridegroom and husband, and heaven and the church a bride and wife. By the appearance His loins downward, having the appearance of fire, brightness round about is signified Divine love spiritual which reigns in the inferior heavens, for the region of the body from the loins even to the soles of tbe feet corresponds to that love. E. 595. The Lord in relation to the Word is described, His appearance above the expanse of the Cherubim. D. P., Page 26.
The last paragraph repeated. D. P., Page 56.
26, 28. The Divine love and the Divine truth pertaining to the Lord. P. P.
27 Sec Chapter I., 26-28. A. 7091.
Wisdom and intelligence from the Divine are meant by glory. A.8427.
The Divine truth is meant by glory. R. 629.
The state of man when the Divine presence removes his proprium, and afterwards fills him is described. E. 77.
Chapter mentioned. Animals which were cherubim, and afterwards the new temple, with all the things belonging to it, appeared also to the prophet Ezekiel, when his interior sight, which is the sight of the spirit, was opened. A. 9457·
Author: Emanuel Swedenborg (Compiled by Robert S. Fischer 1925)