Bible Commentaries
Ezekiel 10

Dr. Constable's Expository NotesConstable's Expository Notes


3. The departure of God’s glory from the temple ch. 10

There are many connections between this chapter and chapter 1, the vision of God’s glory. [Note: Cooper, pp. 135-38, presented a chart comparing the visions in chapters 1 and 8-10.]

"The basic truth of the chapter is that God controls all the forces of judgment that He employs." [Note: Feinberg, p. 59.]

Verse 1

Ezekiel next saw in his vision the cherubim that he had seen by the river Chebar (Ezekiel 1:22; Ezekiel 1:26). "Cherubim" probably comes from the Akkadian karabu, meaning "intercede," "be gracious," or "bless." [Note: See Cooke, pp. 112-14, for an extended note on cherubim; and The New Bible Dictionary, 1962 ed., s.v. "Cherubim," by R. K. Harrison, especially figures 56, 167, and 205.] Over their heads he again saw the throne-chariot that resembled a sapphire in its color and beauty. In Ezekiel 1:26 the throne-chariot resembled lapis lazuli, another expensive blue stone. Perhaps the blue color represented the heavenly origin of this throne.

Verses 1-8

God’s preparations to judge the city 10:1-8

Verse 2

Ezekiel saw the Lord instruct the man in linen (Ezekiel 9:2-4; Ezekiel 9:11) to go among the whirling wheels under the cherubim (Ezekiel 1:15-21) and to collect coals of fire from between them (Ezekiel 1:13). He was then to scatter the coals over the city symbolizing its judgment and cleansing (Genesis 19:24; Psalms 18:10-15; Isaiah 6:6; Isaiah 33:14; Revelation 8:5). The man obeyed as the prophet watched.

Verse 3

Ezekiel explained that in his vision the cherubim were positioned on the right or south side of the temple building, looking east. The south side of the temple was closest to the city. A cloud, symbolizing God’s presence (cf. Exodus 33:9-10; 1 Kings 8:10-11; Isaiah 6:1-4), covered the inner courtyard of the temple where the cherubim stood.

". . . the presence of the Lord was as glorious in His departure as it was in His entrance (Exodus 40:34-35; 1 Kings 8:10-11)." [Note: Feinberg, p. 60.]

Verses 4-5

The prophet saw the glory of the Lord, perhaps personified, move from among the cherubim to the doorway of the temple building a second time (cf. Ezekiel 9:3). As God moved, the cloud representing His glory filled the temple and illuminated the courtyard (cf. Exodus 13:21-22). The sound of the cherubim’s wings (Ezekiel 1:6-9) also filled the whole temple area as far as the outer courtyard. That sound was like the voice of Almighty God, the sovereign of all creation, when He speaks (cf. Ezekiel 1:24; Psalms 29:3).

Verses 6-8

The man dressed in linen entered among the wheels of the cherubim to collect coals of fire. He stood beside one of the wheels. One of the cherubim then put some coals of fire that it had taken from between the cherubim and placed them in the man’s hands. The man then went out of the cherubim’s presence with the coals in his hands (cf. 2 Kings 23:4-9). Ezekiel saw again that the cherubim had what looked like human hands under their wings (Ezekiel 1:8). Perhaps he mentioned this to clarify how the cherub could pick up coals and place them in the man’s hand.

Verses 9-11

Ezekiel again saw the wheels beside the cherubim, one wheel beside each of the four cherubim. This time he compared the wheels to Tarshish (lit. refinery) stones in appearance (cf. Ezekiel 1:16). Again, the exact identity of the stones that Ezekiel saw is impossible to determine with certainty today, but they were obviously expensive and beautiful. Tarshish was probably modern Spain or part of it, so this description identifies the stones by their quality or place of origin. Secondary vertical wheels evidently intersected the primary wheels and made it possible for these wheels to move in any direction horizontally (cf. Ezekiel 1:16-17).

Verses 9-22

God’s preparations to depart from the temple 10:9-22

"God would not share His dwelling place with other ’gods,’ and the sanctuary had been polluted with idolatry. God’s worship center at Shiloh was removed shortly after His glory had departed from it (1 Samuel 4:1-4; 1 Samuel 4:10-11; 1 Samuel 4:19-22; Jeremiah 7:12-14); and the same fate awaited the Jerusalem temple." [Note: Dyer, "Ezekiel," p. 1246.]

"Ezekiel 10:9-22 provides one of the most obvious illustrations of echo literary strategy in Scripture, the affinities between these verses and Ezekiel 1:6-21 being apparent even to the casual reader." [Note: Block, The Book . . ., pp. 315-16.]

Verses 12-14

Eyes covered the cherubim and the wheels symbolizing the great perception and knowledge of these beings (Ezekiel 1:18; cf. Genesis 16:13; Zechariah 4:10; Revelation 4:6). Ezekiel heard the wheels called whirling (Heb. galgal, "rotating," "rolling," or "revolving") wheels, described in terms of their function. Each of the cherubim had four faces-the faces of a cherub, a man, a lion, and an eagle (cf. Ezekiel 1:10).

In Ezekiel 1:10 the faces were of a man, a lion, a bull, and an eagle. Evidently the cherubim appeared more like bulls than anything else. This conclusion harmonizes with ancient Near Eastern art that pictured winged bulls and lions with human or bird heads guarding palaces. Probably the ancients chose these symbols of combined human and animal creatures to represent characteristics of those beings that they respected. Evidently God represented the cherubim in similar terms to communicate that His angelic servants possessed these same characteristics.

Verses 15-17

Then Ezekiel saw these same cherubim, which he had seen in his vision by the river Chebar, rise up. As they moved, the wheels beside them stayed right with them. Likewise when they stood still the wheels also stood still beside them. The spirit of the cherubim extended to the wheels so that whatever one did the other did. Perhaps the mobility of these creatures to do whatever God commanded them to do is what the wheels represent.

Verses 18-19

Ezekiel then saw God move from the front door of the temple (Ezekiel 10:4) to a position above the cherubim. In the former vision, the cherubim supported a platform on which the throne rested (Ezekiel 1:22-26). The Lord was mounting his throne-chariot, which the cherubim would carry, to ride out of the temple and the city. The cherubim taxied God in His throne-chariot up to a position above the east gate of the temple (cf. 1 Samuel 4:4; 2 Samuel 6:2; 2 Kings 19:15; 1 Chronicles 13:6; 1 Chronicles 28:18; Psalms 18:10; Psalms 80:1; Psalms 99:1). This was the main entrance into the temple courtyards from the outside world. The Lord in His glory and the cherubim then hovered above this gate.

God had warned His people that He would remove the glory of His presence from them if they departed from His will (cf. Deuteronomy 31:17; 1 Samuel 4:21; Hosea 9:12). One of the greatest blessings that Christians enjoy is that God has promised never to withdraw His indwelling presence from our bodies, His present temples (Matthew 28:20; cf. John 14:17; 1 Corinthians 6:19).

Verses 20-22

Ezekiel explained that the cherubim were the same creatures that he had formerly called living beings in his description of his earlier vision (Ezekiel 1:5). Why did Ezekiel not call them cherubim in chapter 1? Perhaps this vision of Solomon’s temple, which contained representations of cherubim (Exodus 25:18-20; 1 Kings 6:29; 1 Kings 6:35; 1 Kings 7:29; 1 Kings 7:36), helped Ezekiel identify the living creatures that he had seen before. Each one had four faces, four wings, and human-like hands under their wings (Ezekiel 1:6; Ezekiel 1:8). The faces of the cherubim were the same as the faces of the living creatures in the previous vision. Each cherub moved straight forward, in the direction of the front of its body (Ezekiel 1:9; Ezekiel 1:12). This description may stress the purposefulness with which the cherubim moved to carry out God’s will.

"Once God passed from the gate, the name Ichabod ("the glory has departed") could have been applied to Jerusalem just as it had been applied earlier to Shiloh (1 Samuel 4:21-22)." [Note: Dyer, in The Old . . ., p. 667.]

". . . the departure of the glory signals the end of a relationship that had existed for almost four centuries. The divine king has abandoned his residence." [Note: Block, The Book . . ., pp. 326-27.]

Bibliographical Information
Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on Ezekiel 10". "Dr. Constable's Expository Notes". 2012.