‘ Also out of the midst thereof came the likeness of four living creatures….and everyone had four faces, and every one had four wings.’(Ez.1:5-6)
In order to understand this post the images given in the previous post may be useful. The top image shows a sphinx-like figure with the body of a lion, head of a man. One interesting feature to note are the two pair of wings of which one is lowered by the sides to rest along the ribcage while the other pair is aloft. This was taken from the palace complex of Persepolis. The man wears beard in the Assyrian style. Date of the sphinx (between 6th and 5th c. BC) makes it relevant here to probe it further. The time element,- it coincides with the captivity of Israel leads us to suggest the Prophet was dealing with contemporary events where the iconography sits well with the vision.
Before I come to the text let me draw attention to the image taken from the Palace of Susa. It denotes Ahura Mazda the god that Persians worshipped. Would it be far fetched if I aver the concentric circles of the winged deity bears some connection as much as the wheels within wheels? What are we to assume from vs.18 As for their rings they were so high …. were full of eyes around about them four.’ In the second image of the Mazda the two figure wear caps peculiar with ‘eyes’ all about the rim.
‘They four had one likeness: and their appearance and their work was as it were a wheel in the middle of a wheel.'(vs.16) Spirit of these living creatures was in the wheels. The chariot was drawn by the living creatures. The glory of God yoked these creatures and they could only move straight indicating they were under the control of Lord of the hosts.
Cyrus the great Persian king was ‘anointed’ to obey the will of God. History of nations were in the divine Will and as such we need no go farther than the simple explanation the chastisement of Israel was allowed by Jahweh. As a loving Father he was concerned for his people and let nations serve as the rod. It was what is called ‘tough love.’
I raised up one from the north, he hall come… he shall come upon princes as upon mortar.’ (Is.41:25). The creature in the wheels we read as coming out of the north like a whirlwind.
Finally the wheel and the fire infolding within is the floral motif in the border and along the band that we see scattered around the palace complex.
The prophet was to be Witness, Watchman and his vision was in harmony with his time and his everyday circumstances.