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Ezekiel 1:4-6 New English Translation (NET Bible)

As I watched, I noticed[a] a windstorm[b] coming from the north—an enormous cloud, with lightning flashing,[c] such that bright light[d] rimmed it and came from[e] it like glowing amber[f] from the middle of a fire. In the fire[g] were what looked like[h] four living beings.[i] In their appearance they had human form,[j] but each had four faces and four wings.


  1. Ezekiel 1:4 tn The word הִנֵּה (hinneh, traditionally “behold”) indicates becoming aware of something and has been translated here as a verb.
  2. Ezekiel 1:4 sn Storms are often associated with appearances of God (see Nah 1:3; Ps 18:12). In some passages, the “storm” (סְעָרָה, seʿarah) may be a whirlwind (Job 38:1; 2 Kgs 2:1).
  3. Ezekiel 1:4 tn Heb “fire taking hold of itself,” perhaps repeatedly. The phrase occurs elsewhere only in Exod 9:24 in association with a hailstorm. The LXX interprets the phrase as fire flashing like lightning, but it is possibly a self-sustaining blaze of divine origin. The LXX also reverses the order of the descriptors, i.e., “light went around it, and fire flashed like lightning within it.”
  4. Ezekiel 1:4 tn Or “radiance.” The term also occurs in 1:27b.
  5. Ezekiel 1:4 tc Or “was in it”; cf. LXX ἐν τῷ μέσῳ αὐτοῦ (en tō mesō autou, “in its midst”).
  6. Ezekiel 1:4 tn The LXX translates חַשְׁמַל (khashmal) with the word ἤλεκτρον (ēlektron, “electrum”; so NAB), an alloy of silver and gold, perhaps envisioning a comparison to the glow of molten metal.
  7. Ezekiel 1:5 tc Heb “from its midst” (מִתּוֹכָהּ, mitokhah). The LXX reads ἐν τῷ μέσῳ (en tō mesō, “in the midst of it”). The LXX also reads ἐν for מִתּוֹךְ (mitokh) in v. 4. The translator of the LXX of Ezekiel either read בְּתוֹךְ (betokh, “within”) in his Hebrew exemplar or could not imagine how מִתּוֹךְ could make sense and so chose to use ἐν. The Hebrew would be understood by adding “from its midst emerged the forms of four living beings.”
  8. Ezekiel 1:5 tn Heb “form, figure, appearance.”
  9. Ezekiel 1:5 tn The Hebrew term is feminine plural, yet thirty-three of the forty-five pronominal suffixes and verbal references that refer to the living beings in the chapter are masculine plural. The grammatical vacillation between masculine and feminine plurals suggests the difficulty Ezekiel had in penning these words as he was overcome by the vision of God. In ancient Near-Eastern sculpture very similar images of part-human, part-animal creatures serve as throne and sky bearers. For a discussion of ancient Near-Eastern parallels, see L. C. Allen, Ezekiel (WBC), 1:26-31. Ezekiel’s vision is an example of contextualization, where God accommodates his self-revelation to cultural expectations and norms.
  10. Ezekiel 1:5 sn They had human form may mean they stood erect.
New English Translation (NET)

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