Ezekiel-Kabbalah

Ezekiel:

 When we examine Ezekiel we have almost the entire structure of the Kabbalistic system.

 Ezek 1:2  In the fifth day of the month, which was the fifth year of king Jehoiachin’s captivity,

Ezek 1:3  The word of the LORD came expressly unto Ezekiel the priest, the son of Buzi, in the land of the Chaldeans by the river Chebar; and the hand of the LORD was there upon him.

Ezek 1:4  And I looked, and, behold, a whirlwind came out of the north, a great cloud, and a fire infolding itself, and a brightness was about it, and out of the midst thereof as the colour of amber, out of the midst of the fire.

Ezek 1:5  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.

Ezek 1:6  And every one had four faces, and every one had four wings.

Ezek 1:7  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 the colour of burnished brass.

Ezek 1:8  And they had the hands of a man under their wings on their four sides; and they four had their faces and their wings.

Ezek 1:9  Their wings were joined one to another; they turned not when they went; they went every one straight forward.

Ezek 1:10  As for the likeness of their faces, they four had the face of a man, and the face of a lion, on the right side: and they four had the face of an ox on the left side; they four also had the face of an eagle.

Ezek 1:11  Thus were their faces: and their wings were stretched upward; two wings of every one were joined one to another, and two covered their bodies.

Ezek 1:12  And they went every one straight forward: whither the spirit was to go, they went; and they turned not when they went.

Ezek 1:13  As for the likeness of the living creatures, their appearance was like burning coals of fire, and like the appearance of lamps: it went up and down among the living creatures; and the fire was bright, and out of the fire went forth lightning.

Ezek 1:14  And the living creatures ran and returned as the appearance of a flash of lightning.

Ezek 1:15  Now as I beheld the living creatures, behold one wheel upon the earth by the living creatures, with his four faces.

Ezek 1:16  The appearance of the wheels and their work was like unto the colour of a beryl: and they four had one likeness: and their appearance and their work was as it were a wheel in the middle of a wheel.

Ezek 1:17  When they went, they went upon their four sides: and they turned not when they went.

Ezek 1:18  As for their rings, they were so high that they were dreadful; and their rings were full of eyes round about them four.

Ezek 1:19  And when the living creatures went, the wheels went by them: and when the living creatures were lifted up from the earth, the wheels were lifted up.

Ezek 1:20  Whithersoever the spirit was to go, they went, thither was their spirit to go; and the wheels were lifted up over against them: for the spirit of the living creature was in the wheels.

Ezek 1:21  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 over against them: for the spirit of the living creature was in the wheels.

Ezek 1:22  And the likeness of the firmament upon the heads of the living creature was as the colour of the terrible crystal, stretched forth over their heads above.

Ezek 1:23  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.

Ezek 1:24  And when they went, I heard the noise of their wings, like the noise of great waters, as the voice of the Almighty, the voice of speech, as the noise of an host: when they stood, they let down their wings.

Ezek 1:25  And there was a voice from the firmament that was over their heads, when they stood, and had let down their wings.

Ezek 1:26  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 the likeness as the appearance of a man above upon it.

Ezek 1:27  And I saw as the colour of amber, as the appearance of fire round about within it, from the appearance of his loins even upward, and from the appearance of his loins even downward, I saw as it were the appearance of fire, and it had brightness round about.

Ezek 1:28  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 the LORD. And when I saw it, I fell upon my face, and I heard a voice of one that spake.

Ezek 2:1  And he said unto me, Son of man, stand upon thy feet, and I will speak unto thee.

 Ezek. 8:1  And it came to pass in the sixth year, in the sixth month, in the fifth day of the month, as I sat in mine house, and the elders of Judah sat before me, that the hand of the Lord G-d fell there upon me. 2. Then I beheld, and lo a likeness as the appearance of fire: from the appearance of his loins even downward, fire; and from his loins even upward, as the appearance of brightness, as the colour of amber.

 This vision stated here in Chapter 8 is like the vision in Chapter 1:27. In order to understand the vision we need to compare the visions.

 Ezek 1:27  And I saw as the colour of amber, as the appearance of fire round about within it, from the appearance of his loins even upward, and from the appearance of his loins even downward, I saw as it were the appearance of fire, and it had brightness round about.

 The foregoing is generally known as Ezekiel’s Chariot but in Judaism or Kabbalah it is known as Maaseh Merkavah. The "Workings of the Chariot." Ezekiel is a key to the entire prophetic method. In the next  lessons we are going to analyze Ezekiel’s vision through the Hebrew and from the Sages point of view to get an understanding.

We have arrived at the place in Ezekiel where we will be examining the symbology of Ezekiel’s chariot. This leads us to a hidden doctrine in Judaism within the corpus of work identified as Kabbalah. The general public has in the main misunderstood Kabbalah. It has been linked to the occult and in some cases there is a basis for that concern. It is not an easily understood discipline and because of that lends itself to misinterpretation and misuse. Many occult concepts might be traced to this discipline, but in the large it is a discipline that involves mysticism. Mysticism is a spiritual discipline that aims at union with the divine through deep meditation or contemplation. Meditation is another word that suffers from misinterpretation. It simply means to contemplate, to engage in contemplation. Contemplate means to consider thoughtfully. Now to the doctrine. It is best described as the “Doctrine of the Son.”

 This doctrine lies at the core of esoteric Judaism. Esoteric is defined as understood or intended by a small group and not publicly disclosed: therefore a secret doctrine. We can trace this doctrine to its origin even in the Books of Moshe. It is more prominent in Ezekiel.

 In the Books of Moshe the secret doctrine of the son is mostly closely tied to the sacrificial system, but it has its roots in the archetypal form in Abraham. The renaming of Abraham and Sarah is symbolic of the transformation of personality that signals a spiritual rebirth establishing a covenant with YHVH Elohim. In Genesis 17:1-9 we see the association of this covenant with sacrifice:

 gen. 17:1  And when Abram was ninety years old and nine, the LORD appeared to Abram, and said unto him, I am the Almighty God; walk before me, and be thou perfect.

2  And I will make my covenant between me and thee, and will multiply thee exceedingly.

3  And Abram fell on his face: and God talked with him, saying,

4  As for me, behold, my covenant is with thee, and thou shalt be a father of many nations.

5  Neither shall thy name any more be called Abram, but thy name shall be Abraham; for a father of many nations have I made thee.

6  And I will make thee exceeding fruitful, and I will make nations of thee, and kings shall come out of thee.

7  And I will establish my covenant between me and thee and thy seed after thee in their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be a God unto thee, and to thy seed after thee.

8  And I will give unto thee, and to thy seed after thee, the land wherein thou art a stranger, all the land of Canaan, for an everlasting possession; and I will be their God.

9        And God said unto Abraham, Thou shalt keep my covenant therefore, thou, and thy seed after thee in their generations.

 The covenant requires that Abraham be a tamin, a whole without a flaw or division, in performing the divine will. The sacrifice is signified by the rite of circumcision, the token of the covenant. This B’rit Milah (circumcision) is normally performed on the 8th day of life considered as beyond the seven days of creation, thus symbolic of a new beginning or eternity. In this case the sacrifice of the flesh of the foreskin is only symbolic of an inner consecration of the whole self to divine service. In essence the fruits of sexuality are devoted to the higher covenant. As we progress in scripture we see that the meaning of animal sacrifice is more clearly presented with respect to the miraculous son who is to be born, against all the laws of nature, to the divinely renamed Abraham and Sarah. In this we also foresee the divine act of YHVH Elohim Himself in His Son.

 

Isaac bounded and presented as an animal sacrifice by divine order was not the simple proving of Abraham and through his obedience the transmission of blessing to all humanity: Gen; 22: 18  And in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed; because thou hast obeyed my voice. It is also an instruction as to the use of a substitute sacrifice. Gen. 22:13 13  And Abraham lifted up his eyes, and looked, and behold behind him a ram caught in a thicket by his horns: and Abraham went and took the ram, and offered him up for a burnt offering in the stead of his son. The individual conscreated to divine service is not to be destroyed but redeemed through the practice of sacrifice.

 This association of the priestly rite of animal sacrifice one of the main focuses of the books of the Mosaic “law”, with the secret doctrine of the son, the souls that have been spiritually reborn into holiness, is further developed in the Book of Exodus.

 In Ex. 4: 22-23 we read: 22  And thou shalt say unto Pharaoh, Thus saith the LORD, Israel is my son, even my firstborn… 23  And I say unto thee, Let my son go, that he may serve me. The religious meaning of the term “son” is first applied to collective Israel, which will through service become “6  (And ye shall be unto me) a kingdom of priests, and an holy nation (Ex. 19:6). In the Palestinian Talmud, this special usage of the term “Son (s)” is recognized: “At the hour that Israel does the will of the Holy One, blessed be He, they are called sons; and at the hour that they do not do the will of the Holy One, blessed be He, they are not called sons” (Kiddushin 61a). Here we see again a foreshadowing of His only begotten Son in the nation of Israel which is identified not only the divine son but also his firstborn, one especially consecrated to divine service. In Exodus 13:2 we see the paradigm: 2  Sanctify unto me all the firstborn, whatsoever openeth the womb among the children of Israel, both of man and of beast: it is mine. The important distinction between the sanctified firstborns of man and of animals is that “All the firstborns thy sons thy shall redeem” (Ex 34:20). The human firstborns are not only to be technically redeemed from death through a substitute of and animal sacrifice, which was later reduced to a monetary contribution of five shekels to the Temple (Num. 18:15-16), but also through the spiritual efficacy of this practice was revealed the consecration of those who are to be models for the whole nation, priests.

 In Ex. 29:1 we see the most significant thing Moshe must do is to hallow Aaron and his sons. “To hallow them, to minister unto me in the priest’s office” (Ex. 29:1). From the “ram of consecration” sacrifice we see that first some of its blood is to be put on the tip of their right earlobes, right thumbs, and right big toes (Ex. 29:20). There are three psychic (things that are not explainable by natural physical laws) centers that can be identified with this ritual: the mind with the earlobes, the heart with the thumbs, and the instincts with the toes. Even more significant than their anointing was the blood and oil is the final use to be made of the ram:

 31  And thou shalt take the ram of the consecration, and seethe his flesh in the holy place.

32  And Aaron and his sons shall eat the flesh of the ram, and the bread that is in the basket, by the door of the tabernacle of the congregation.

33  And they shall eat those things wherewith the atonement was made, to consecrate and to sanctify them: but a stranger shall not eat thereof, because they are holy.   

 The sacrificial ram becomes transformed by the divine holiness of which it partakes and the eating of this ritually transformed animal flesh becomes transformed by the holiness of which it partakes; and the eating of this ritually transformed animal transfers the same holiness to the participant through ingestion.

 This understanding is conveyed at the conclusion of the divine instruction for the consecration of the tabernacle and the priesthood.

 44  And I will sanctify the tabernacle of the congregation, and the altar: I will sanctify also both Aaron and his sons, to minister to me in the priest’s office.

45  And I will dwell among the children of Israel, and will be their God.

46    And they shall know that I am the LORD their God, that brought them forth out of the land of Egypt, that I may dwell among them: I am the LORD their God. (Ex. 29: 44-46)

 The key to this understanding is clearly transmitted in the Hebrew, but the meaning is obscured in the translation. The word twice translated as “among,” betoch, can be shown in any Hebrew-English dictionary to have the practical meaning of “within.” Also the children of Israel by partaking of the Holy Sacrifices during the three pilgrimages festivals will be able to experience the indwelling of the Ruach Ha Kodesh (Holy Spirit) that is the daily experience of the officiating priests (Ex. 19:6). Through ritual ministration it signified the miraculous transformation of flesh into spirit, that is the communicating of holiness into their own persons, which forms the basis of all later cosmological (dealing with the structure of the universe, the order of things) developments that can be associated with priestly knowledge. . This again does a foreshadowing of the coming Ruach at Shavuot or Pentecost for all believing mankind.

 We should also note that there are two main lines of theoretical development that have their source in the Mosaic Law, that of the prophets and of the priests. In Western theological thought Hebrew prophets are noted for their foretelling but in Judaism their main concern was with the ethical behavior of man to man, both individually and collectively. They showed little concern for the Temple sacrifices or understanding for their purposes. They preached ethical rather than spiritual. Take Micah 6:6-8 for example:

 6  Wherewith shall I come before the LORD, and bow myself before the high God? shall I come before him with burnt offerings, with calves of a year old?

7  Will the LORD be pleased with thousands of rams, or with ten thousands of rivers of oil? shall I give my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?

8  He hath showed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the LORD require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?  

 The priests in contrast to the prophet’s social ethics (horizontal) were developing their own different understanding of human perfectibility, not of humility before YHVH but of a salvific unification with the divine (vertical). Evidence of such can first be seen through prophet/priests who can be directly linked with priestly practice, Elijah and Ezekiel. 

 Of Elijah we have historical accounts in 1 and 2 Kings where we see the high valuation given to the sacrificial cult and the understanding for its purpose. Elijah’s greatest earthly accomplishment was his drawing down of the divine fire to light his sacrifice and so confound the four hundred and fifty prophets of Baal. His great theophany is of the Elohim who is not in earth-shaking external events but within, in a “still small voice” (1 Kings 19:12)

 12  And after the earthquake a fire; but the LORD was not in the fire: and after the fire a still small voice.

and his end in a direct translation to heaven in a fiery chariot.

 11  And it came to pass, as they still went on, and talked, that, behold, there appeared a chariot of fire, and horses of fire, and parted them both asunder; and Elijah went up by a whirlwind into heaven.

12  And Elisha saw it, and he cried, My father, my father, the chariot of Israel, and the horsemen thereof. And he saw him no more: and he took hold of his own clothes, and rent them in two pieces.  

 Elijah’s translation to heaven is not only mystically perceived by Elisha who becomes Elijah’s spiritual son but also he understands the vehicle of this translation, the Chariot to be the ideal community of Israel. Elijah in his translation is seen as the model of that transformation of a spiritually perfected individual into salvation transcending human mortality into eternality.

 The greatest prophet who also was a Zadokite priest is Ezekiel. It is Ezekiel who clearly brings together the concept of the “son” and the chariot. Ezekiel had a chariot vision after he is addressed by YHVH Elohim as “son of man” ( Eze. 2:1-2) and is filled with His spirit. This vision bestowed spiritual power upon him and caused him to recognize his son ship to the power in human form that appearing on the chariot.  The phrase “son of man” (Ben Adam), which is to have a remarkable future history in the later Apocalypses, appears eight-seven times in the Book of Ezekiel in reference to the prophet-priest himself. Shouldn’t we also note that Yahshua is a prophet-priest? In Gematria the number (8) signifies “new beginnings, eternity” and the number (7) spiritual perfection.

 

The chariot has four levels; the Wheels, the Living Creatures, the Firmament, and the Throne. In Ezekiel 1:26 we read:

 

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 the likeness as the appearance of a man above upon it.

 The Glory or Kavod Ezekiel saw sitting on the Throne had the appearance of a man. In Isaiah 6:1 we read:

 6:1  In the year that king Uzziah died I saw also the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up, and his train filled the temple. (The word Lord here is Adonai) Isaiah sees Adonai and not some likeness of a man.

 This in contrast to Ezekiel should give us some understanding of Ezekiel’s vision.

 The vision of Ezekiel portends the transfiguration of a man into his final state of spiritual perfection into and encompassing the final purpose of creation the supernal form of the Divine Son.   Now we enter into the area where without a solid foundation in Scripture and an understanding of who Yahshua is and His office some go off into occult perceptions.

 Lesson 4

 Last week we ended with the vision of Ezekiel of a man in the throne vision. It is not directly a vision of G-d but of glorified man. A man in his potentially final state of spiritual transfiguration that would here seem to represent the Glory of G-d and the final purpose of creation, the Glory thus representing the supernal (heavenly, celestial or divine) form of the divine son.

 This then is the essential meaning of Ezekiel’s vision that the “son of man,” the human son of G-d, is He who WAS TO COME IN THE BODY OF Yahshua haMashiach.

 Now to a further kabbalistic tradition that was developed later adding an adulterated interpretation to the true meaning of Ezekiel’s vision. Concerning this same vision please note many of the doctrines of the New Age Movement seem to have utilized this source for some of their doctrines.

 This understanding came to be part of the later kabbalistic tradition that at the highest level of mystical ascent the face one sees on the Throne will be one’s own. Obviously this is an adulteration of the true meaning of the vision and is one that people like Shirley McLean publish: we are all “little gods” and when we view G-d we view ourselves.

 Abraham Abulafia[1], the great kabbalistic master of meditation, writes, “When an individual completely enters the mystery of prophecy, he suddenly sees his own image standing before him.” He supports his claim in the manner of rabbis and sages by quoting from a work by Moshe of Narbonne that refers to this earlier tradition: “When the sages teach that the prophets ‘liken a form to its Creator,’ they mean that they liken the form which is in the prophet’s own soul…to its Creator, that is, to G-d. It is thus written, ‘Over the throne there was a form like an image of a Man’ (Ezekiel 1:26). These forms and images exist in the soul of the prophet…” This is the essential message of all later forms of Jewish mysticism, for they all are derived directly from Ezekiel’s vision. This then is where the interpretation became corrupted from the Sadducean priestly elite version.

 The Kabbalists emphasize the four levels of the chariot, which they identify with the four worlds of cosmic emanation. The Merkabah mystics the ascent of the chariot (Merkabah) through the seven heavens to the Throne vision, and the apocalyptic writers the two forms of divine sonship. All take from Ezekiel his particular revelation of the priestly learning that conveys its most profound meaning. In 1 Cor 2: 2-7 we read:

2. I knew a man in Messiah above fourteen years ago, (whether in the body, I cannot tell; or whether out of the body, I cannot tell: God knoweth;) such an one caught up to the third heaven.

3  And I knew such a man, (whether in the body, or out of the body, I cannot tell: God knoweth;)

4  How that he was caught up into paradise, and heard unspeakable words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter.

5  Of such an one will I glory: yet of myself I will not glory, but in mine infirmities.

6  For though I would desire to glory, I shall not be a fool; for I will say the truth: but now I forbear, lest any man should think of me above that which he seeth me to be, or that he heareth of me.

7  And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure.

 Scholars have determined that Sha’ul was speaking of himself as the man he knew and eludes to himself as that man in verse 6-7. This is kabbalah and is of the doctrine of transmigration of souls. In this we then see that Sha’ul practiced and believed at least part of the kabbalah. It is probable that he also knew the “Doctrine of the Son” in its earlier pure form, as the adulterated did not come until later. This should not seem odd based on his own statement of credentials and education. The Christian community has adopted Paul as the architect of the “Church” and in so doing should explore the foundation of much of Sha’ul’s knowledge.

 The later mystical tradition in Judaism is then the lineal descendent of the learning that we may presume was taught in the Temple as part of the training for the priesthood. Though the later rabbinical tradition derives largely from the prophets, the esoteric-mystical tradition, which has maintained a hidden existence throughout the subsequent millennia of Jewish religious history, derives just as surely from the priesthood as its tradition was filtered through this conduit from Ezekiel, a prophet/priest.

 The book of Daniel most readily profits from Ezekiel. Daniel’s throne Vision, the term “Son of Man” is directly applied to one to the two supernal beings seen by him.

 Daniel 7:9, 13-14, 18

 9        I beheld till the thrones were cast down, and the Ancient of days did sit, whose garment was white as snow, and the hair of his head like the pure wool: his throne was like the fiery flame, and his wheels as burning fire.

 13  I saw in the night visions, and, behold, one like the Son of man came with the clouds of heaven, and came to the Ancient of days, and they brought him near before him.

14      And there was given him dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, that all people, nations, and languages, should serve him: his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed.

 18    But the saints of the most High shall take the kingdom, and possess the kingdom forever, even for ever and ever.

 The two supernal beings are distinguished by age, he who is seated on the chariot Throne being characterized as “Ancient” and having white hair while he who is brought before this enthroned of Ancient of Days has the comparative youth associated with the term “son.” But this son seems to be derived from man if the prior analysis of the term “son of Man” in Ezekiel can be applied as well to the Daniel text, and to Him is given that final dominion and glory in an everlasting kingdom to which “the saints of the most High” are also heir.

 Where the association of Ezekiel as “son of man” with the envisioned man on the Throne was only implied, such an implication becomes explicit in the next vision of Daniel.

 “And it came to pass, when I, even I Daniel, had seen the vision, and sought for the meaning, then behold, there stood before me the appearance of a man…He said unto me, Understand O son of man: for at the time of the end shall be the vision” (8:15, 17). The addressing of Daniel like Ezekiel, as the “son of man” (ben Adam) makes explicit the identification of seer and seen, since a form of this term has been applied to the supernal being who is to be the final apocalyptic judge and rule the everlasting kingdom. 

 That such an identification of Ezekiel’s vision was understood is made even clearer by a further apocalyptic work, one influenced by Daniel but not included in the biblical canon that also uses the term “son of man.” This is the parable section of the Ethioptic Book of Enoch now known as 1 Enoch that predates the rest of the text by 100-200 years. R.H. Charles deduced Enoch was written no earlier than 94 BC or later than 64 BC[2]. Jude refers to this book in his epistle (Jude 1:14).  Both Daniel and the second part of 1 Enoch are expressions of a developing priestly cosmology either rooted in interpretation of Ezekiel’s vision given an earlier, more cryptic, expression by Ezekiel himself. As in Daniel there is a double vision of supernal beings, an older and the other younger.

Ezekiel Foundation of  Kabbalah   

 We have examined the Throne Vision of Ezekiel. We read the Scripture from Ezekiel 1:2-2:1. We compared that with Ezekiel 8:1 and learned that that the vision stated there is like the vision in Chapter 1:17. This vision is know in Kabbalah as "Maaseh Merkavah" or the "Workings of the Chariot." Ezekiel is a key to the entire prophetic method and when we examine Ezekiel we have almost the entire structure of the Kabbalistic system.

 

  1. You should write a short synopsis as to what Ezekiel’s vision means to you.
  2. Then consult Strong’s concordance and define some of the terms found in Ezekiel. Some of the terms were:

·        Amber

·        Speaking Silence-Chashmal

·        Living Creatures-Chayot

·        Wheels-Ophanim

 

First, write out  your impression of Ezekiel.

Second, Research some of your definitions of the terms given you for research.

 

Definitions:

 

  1. amber-2830. chashmal, khash-mal’; of uncert. der.; prob. bronze or polished spectrum metal:–amber. Amber is a hard, inflammable, bituminous substance, of a beautiful yellow colour, very transparent, and susceptible of an exquisite polish.  When rubbed it is highly endowed with electricity; a name which the moderns have formed from its Greek name [elektron.]  But, as amber becomes dim as soon as it feels the fire, and is speedily consumed, it is probable that the original {chashmal,} which Bochart derives from the Chaldee {nechash,} copper, and {melala,} gold, was a mixed metal, similar to that which the Greeks called [elektron,] electrum, as the LXX. and Vulgate render, from its resemblance to amber in colour.

 

 

  1. Living Creatures- Chayot- 2416. chay, khah’ee; from H2421; alive; hence raw (flesh); fresh (plant, water, year), strong, also (as noun, espec. in the fem. sing. and masc. plur.) life (or living thing), whether lit. or fig.:– + age, alive, appetite, (wild) beast, company, congregation, life (-time), live (-ly), living (creature, thing), maintenance, + merry, multitude, + (be) old, quick, raw, running, springing, troop.

 

  1. Wheels-Ophanim- 212. ‘owphan, o-fawn’; or (short.)  ‘ophan, o-fawn’; from an unused root mean. to revolve; a wheel:–wheel.

 

 

Now let us look at the vision and incorporate into our review of what the sages say. First, the word  “Chashmal.”  It is rendered in Hebrew literature as “Speaking Silence.” In Chapter 1 starting from verse 1 let me read and intersperse with the English the Hebrew words and see if we can obtain a greater understanding:

 

And it was in the thirtieth year, in the fourth month, on the fifth of the month, while I was among the exiles on the river Chebar, and the heavens were opened, and I saw visions of G-d.

 

On the fifth of the month, in the fifth year of the exile of King Yehoiachin, the Word of G-d had come to Ezekiel ben Buzi, in the land of the Chaldeans, on the river Chebar, and the hand of G-d was upon him.

 

I saw, and behold a stormy wind (Ruach) come from the north, a great cloud, and flashing fire, and a Glow (nogah) round about, and from its midst a vision of the Speaking Silence (Chashmal), in the midst of the fire.

 

And from the midst was the form of four Chayot (Living Creatures) –this was their form-they had a human form. Each one had four faces and everyone had four wings. Their feet were straight, and the soles of their feet were like those of a calf’s foot, and they shined like a vision of polished copper.

 

Human hands were under their wings on all four sides, and all four had faces and wings. Their wings were joined to each other, and they did not turn when they went. Each one moved in the direction of their faces when they went. Each one moved in the direction of their faces as they went.

 

The form of their faces were the face of a man, with the face of a lion to the fright of the four, the face of an Ox to the left of the four, and the face of an eagle to the four. Their faces and wings were separated on top. For each one, two connected the individuals, and two covered their bodies. Each individual moved in the direction of his face. They went to where the Ruach-spirit was to go. They did not turn as they went.

 

The form of the Chayot had the appearance of burning coals of fire. Walking between the Chayot was a vision of torches, and a Glow (nogah) for fire, and from the fire went forth sparks.

 

The Chayot ran and returned, like a vision of lighting.

Then I gazed at the Chayot, like a vision of lightning. Ophan (wheels) on the earth near the Chayot. (One was) on each of its four faces.

 

The appearance of the Ophanim and their actions was like a vision of Topaz. All four had a single form, and their appearance and actions were as if there was an Ophan within an Ophan.

 

They moved on their four sides as they went-they did not turn as they went. They had high backs and were filled with fear. The backs of all four were filled with eyes.

 

When the Chayot moved, the Ophanim went near them. When the Chayot rose up from the earth, the Ophanim were also lifted. When the Ruach-spirit had to go, there the Ruach-spirit of the Chayah was in the Ophanim. When one went, so went the other; where one stood, so stood the other. And when they were lifted from the earth, the Ophanim was lifted beside them, for the Ruach-spirit of Chayah was in the Ophanim.

 

The form above the heads of the Chayah was that of a firmament, looking like a fearsome ice, spread out above their heads. Under the firmament, their wings were straight out, one toward another. For each individual, two covered them and for each individual, two covered their bodies.

 

Then I heard the sound of their wings, like the sound of many waters, like the voice of the Almighty (Shaddai) when they went. The sound of their tumult was like the sound of an armed camp-when they stood still, they let down their wings. And there was a sound from the firmament, which was above their heads-when they stood still, they let down their wings.

 

Above the firmament that was over their heads, like a vision of a sapphire, was the form of a Throne, and over the form of the Throne, there was a form like a vision of a Man, on it from above.

 

And I saw a vision of the Speaking Silence (Chashmal) like a vision of a fire, as a house for it round about, from the vision of His thighs and above. And from the vision of His thighs and below, I saw a vision like fire, with a Glow (nogah) around it. Like a vision of the rainbow in the clouds on a rainy day, so was the vision of the Glow around. This was the vision of G-d’s Glory. I saw it and I fell on my face. Then I heard a voice speak.

 

It said to me, “Son of man, stand up on your feet, and I will speak to you,” Then the Ruach-spirit came in me, and it spoke to me. It stood me on my feet, and I heard that which spoke to me. (Ezekiel 1:1-2:2)

 

Now let’s consider Elijah’s vision in 1 Kings 19: 9-14.

 

In this passage we see that Elijah came to a cave, and he spent the night there. G-d’s word came to him, and said to him, “What are you doing here, Elijah?”

 

He replied, “I have been very zealous for the Lord, G-d of Hosts, for the children of Israel have abandoned your covenant, they have overthrown Your Altars, and they have killed Your prophets with the sword. I alone remain, and they seek to take my life.”

 

[G-d] said to him, “Go out, and stand on the mountain before G-d.” G-d then passed by.

 

There was a great strong wind, sundering mountains and smashing bedrock, before G-d. But G-d was not in the wind.

 

After the wind came a great noise. But G-d was not in the noise.

 

After the noise, there was a fire. But G-d was not in the fire.

 

Then, after the fire, there was a soft voice.

 

When Elijah heard this he wrapped his face in his Tallit and went out. He stood by the entrance of the cave, and the voice came to him and said, “What are you doing here, Elijah?”

 

He replied, “I have been very zealous for the Lord, G-d of Hosts, for the children of Israel have abandoned Your Covenant, they have overthrown Your altars, and they have killed Your prophets with the sword. I alone remain, and they seek to take my life.’ (1 Kings 19: 9-14)

 

Now let us see what some Jewish Authorities see in these passages and how these passages may help us to understand Ezekiel’s vision while also giving us insight into the prophetic process. Some interpret these verses as revealing the essence of prophecy. Keeping in mind that prophecy does not normally mean foretelling but inspirational speaking of G-d’s word.

 

The “stormy wind” alludes to the ecstasy of the prophet when he begins to experience prophecy. His faculties become very agitated with great ecstasy so that he is overcome with great trembling, as if a powerful wind was blowing and a tornado was throwing him about, Daniel was referring to such an experience when he said, “My appearance was obliterated, and my strength deserted me: (Daniel 10:8). Eliphaz likewise said, “Then the spirit (wind, Ruach) passed before my face and made the hair of my flesh stand on end” (Job 4:15). Ezekiel himself, when prophecy came upon him, had said, “A spirit (wind, Ruach) lifted me, and behind me, I heard a great voice” (Ezekiel 3:12)

 

 This then is the meaning of the verse, “Behold a stormy wind (spirit, Ruach) came from the north. This verse mentions a north wind in particular, since the north wind is known to be very strong. The Bible is indicating the strength of the wind by indicating it came from the north.

 The great cloud that Ezekiel saw alludes to this ignorance of the future. He sees it as if “a fearsome darkness fell on him” (Gen. 15:12). A cloud surrounds him since he does not know what the end will be.

 The “flashing fire” alludes to the influx of prophecy that reaches his mind, which in its power, is like purifying fire. This is what G-d told Jeremiah, “Are not my words like fire?” (Jeremiah 23:29). Jeremiah himself also said, “It was in my heart like burning fire” (Jeremiah 20:9)[1]

 Now let’s compare and see what, when we employ the meanings of the Hebrew Words along with other aspects and teachings of this passage it can mean from a purely Jewish aspect albeit with our own knowledge of who Yahshua is to us.

 In very few places do the prophets provide us with any insight into their experiences, so that we should be able to understand what exactly prophesy entails. One of the exceptions is the vision of Ezekiel.

 What we see here is that the prophet is gazing at four levels in what in Judaism is described as:

      ·        The most prominent that of Chayot (singular Chayah, a “living” angelic being. The Chayot are later identified as being the same as the Cherubs in Ezekiel 10:5.

·        Below the level of Chayot is the Ophanim (singular, Ophan, a wheel-like angelic creature in Ezekiel 1:15.

·        Then he sees a firmament over the heads of the Chayot and gazing even higher he describes the Throne

·         And lastly a “man” upon the Throne.  

 Kabbalah or mystic Judaism says that Ezekiel has envisioned the four supernal Universes, which correspond to the Tetragrammaton, the Name of G-d. You see a representation of that on the handout I gave you of the Tree of Life in the vertical Tetragrammaton. The highest of these is Atzilut (Closeness); Beriyah (Creation); Yetzirah, I have formed it (formation); and Asiyah, I have made it (making). They are alluded to in the verse, “All that is called by My Name, for My Glory (Atzilut), I have created it (Beriyah), I have formed it (Yetzirah), and I have made it (Asiyah)” Isaiah 43:7.

 The highest, Atzilut, which in this verse is called “My Glory,” is the Universe of the Ten Sefirot, the Divine Emanations, and in Ezekiel’s vision, the “Man” on the Throne represents this. Ask yourself, Who is the fulfillment of the Divine emanation? The Tree of Life?

 The next universe is Beriyah, the Universe of Creation, which is also know as the Universe of the Throne. This is represented by the Throne in Ezekiel’s vision since he sees the Throne “above the firmament that is above the heads” of the Chayot. “It is obvious that the Universe of the Throne is higher that that of the angels.

 The part of the human soul that reaches the level of Beriyah is that of Neshamah. This highest level of the soul is called “the breath of G-d” and represents the first stage of G-d lowering Himself to create man and be concerned with man’s destiny.

 The next level is Yetzirah, the universe of formation, which corresponds to the level of Ruach in the human soul, and in the soul this is also the level that implies communication.

 Finally, there is Asiyah, the Universe of Making, which includes the physical world and its spiritual counterpart. The angels of Asiyah are the Ophanim of “Wheels,” and these are the Ophanim that Ezekiel saw under the Chayot. In the human soul, Asiyah corresponds to the level of Nefesh, which is where the spiritual actually interacts with the physical.

 Ezekiel reached the level of Yetzirah. The Throne was however in the Universe above that in which Ezekiel had his vantage point. The prophet therefore said, “he saw the likeness of a throne.” Finally, the “man on the Throne” is seen two levels above him,. And this is envisioned as a reflection of a reflection for it is described as “a likeness of the appearance of Man.”

 When we examine Ezekiel we have almost the entire structure of the Kabbalistic system. Adjunct to that is Ezekiel’s importance as a key to the entire prophetic method. In the language of the Talmud it is called Maaseh Merkavah, the “ Workings of the Chariot.” I would like you to note that the term Merkavah or Chariot occurs nowhere in the Book of Ezekiel and then why this term.

 On place in the Bible where the word is found in such a context is in the verse, “Gold for the pattern of the Chariot (Merkavah), the Cherubs (1 Chronicles 28:18). The scripture here uses the word Merkavah specifically to describe the Cherubs of the Ark.  But, as we have seen, Ezekiel identifies the Cherubs with the Chayot seen in his initial vision. Therefore the concept of the chariot does indeed relate to his vision.

 The word Merkavah comes from the root Rakhav. The relationship between the Cherubs and the Chariot is therefore related to the concept expressed in the verse. [G-d] rode on a Cherub and flew, and He swooped down on wings of spirit” (Psalm 18:11). It is significant to note that the root of the word Cherub and the word Rakhav, meaning “to ride,” have exactly the same letters.

 In general, the concept of riding is that of traveling and leaving one’s natural place. Then when the Bible says that G-d “rides,” it means that he leaves His natural state where He is absolutely unknowable and inconceivable, and allows Himself to be visualized by the prophets. He is said to “swoop with the wings of spirit (Ruach).” The term “wings” alludes to coverings, meaning that G-d covers and conceals His glory, not revealing it completely, since if He did, the prophets would be overwhelmed and blinded. The spiritual force, through which the vision is granted, is Ruach, related to Ruach HaKodesh. What is being taught here is that the Ruach HaKodesh is reached by the Ruach (spirit) or the highest of the three levels of soul, the Neshamah, which is the “Breath of G-d.” The highest and the lowest Nefesh are connected by the Ruach when a message or enlightenment is bestowed by G-d upon man. We see this in Isaiah 32:15 “A spirit (Ruach) is poured upon us from on high.” And in Joel as well.  

 Ezekiel’s entire vision requires study, but maybe one of the most important parts is the opening verse, which is often ignored. The prophet says: “ I looked and behold, a stormy wind coming from the north, a great cloud and a flashing fire, and a glow round about it, and from its midst, the vision of the Chashmal, in the midst of the fire” (Ezekiel 1:4) 

 The Zohar teaches that the “stormy wind,” the “great cloud,” and the “flashing fire” refer to the three levels of the Klipah, the “husk” that is the root of all evil. These confuse the mind, and serve as barriers to one who would ascend into the spiritual domain. According to the Zohar, they also corresponds to the three barriers visualized by Elijah; “ A great strong wind…and earthquake, and a fire…and after the fire, a still small voice” (1 Kings 19:11,12) In both cases, the prophet is speaking of levels of experience that precede true prophecy, but in the case of Elijah, the scripture is explicit is stating one follows the other.

 In Ezekiel we see the great prophetic experience beginning with great agitation, visualized as “stormy wind.” Literally, this is a “stormy Ruach” (Ruach Sa’arah), and because of this it can be translated as “stormy spirit.” Could this be haSatan’s spirit trying to derail the prophetic ascent? We should invest some serious thought to this concept. Could many who think they have the Ruach HaKodesh really be resting in the level of this stormy spirit as characterized by disorder and disharmony? Such practices are rampant in the Christian community and we should seriously consider if this is a device of hasatan to prevent our ascent to G-d.  The Zohar teaches this is the first barrier through which a person must pass. Then the prophet encounters a “great cloud.” This is the second Klipah. This is described as an opaqueness of the mind, where nothing can be seen or experienced, and it will discourage the average person from proceeding any further. We must will ourselves to proceed further. When we think we can’t learn Torah nor understand it we must continue on with trust to the next level, which is a breakthrough. Elijah’s experience was audile, rather than visual like Ezekiel’s. He described the second barrier or klipah as a “loud noise,” a Ra’ash, in Hebrew. This is often translated as “earthquake,” but in this context it would better be translated as an undifferentiated white noise, in which no coherent sound can be discerned. It is an audile equivalent of an opaque cloud.

 The third thing the prophet experienced was awe, shame, and dread, this being exemplified by fire. The cloud shows that the person who is not worthy will be revealed nothing; the fire shows the opposite by an overabundance of sensation, threatening and repelling the person. The person must keep spiritually ascending until he reaches the level of the Nogah, the “glow.” From the context to which it is usually used in Scripture it refers to the light shining out of the darkness. What the person or prophet must do is to blank out all of these sensations of storm, cloud and fire, which are aspects of the Klipah (husks) and spiritual darkness, and concentrate on the light that shines out from the darkness.

 When the person or prophet reaches this level he then reaches the level of the Chashmal, which is identical with the “still small voice” of Elijah or “silent speaking” of Ezekiel. This is the level of silence through which he can hear the word of G-d or see a true divine vision. The bible then goes on to describe the entire vision of Ezekiel, including the levels of the Chayot, the Throne, and the Man on the Throne. All of these are elements of the Chariot, the system through which G-d reveals Himself and His control of the reins of creation. Then the account ends, “I fell on my face and I heard a voice speaking.” All the Commentaries State that all the prophets visualized the entire Merkavah before hearing the word, but Ezekiel was the only one who described it explicitly.

 

Shalom v’brachas

Rabbi Davis (R. Milchamah b. David)

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