Ezekiel’s Vision

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. 17:1-9

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.

1 Enoch
And there I saw one who had a head of days, and his head (was) white like wool; and with him (there was) another, whose face had the appearance of a man, and his face (was) full of grace, like one of the holy angels. And I asked one of the holy angels who went with me, and showed me all the secrets, about the Son of Man, who he was, and whence he was, (and) why he went with the Head of Days. And he answered me and said to me: “This is the Son of Man who has righteousness, and with whom righteousness dwells; he will reveal all the treasures of that which is secret, for the Lord of Spirits has chosen him, and through uprightness his lot has surpassed all before the Lord of Spirits forever. And the Son of Man…will cast down the kings from their throne, (chapt. 46)
On the final Day of Judgment, we were earlier told of this chosen being: “On that day the Chosen One will sit on the throne of glory (chapt 45). Equally significant is the suggestion of his prior existence: “For from the beginning the Son of Man was hidden, and the Most High kept him in the presence of His power, and revealed Him (only) to the chosen; and the community of the holy and the chosen will be sown, and all the chosen will stand before Him on that day” (chapt. 62). In chapter 69 Enoch tells us: “And he sat on the throne of His glory, and the whole judgment was given to the Son of Man.” Now, it is not clear if this “Son of Man” was with HaShem from the beginning or if it was the concept that was hidden whose revelation was to be revealed in the end of days and for final redemption.

Now we come to a very interesting section in Enoch. It is significant because it give a clear identification between the visionary Enoch and this “Son of Man.”

And it came to pass after this that my spirit was carried off, and it went up into the heavens…And that angel came to me, and greeted me with his voice, and said to me; “you are the Son of Man who was born to righteousness, and righteousness remains over you, and the righteousness of the Head of Days will not leave you.” And he said to me” “He proclaims peace to you in the name of the world which is to come, for from there peace has come out from the creation of the world; and you will have it for ever and for ever and ever. And all…will walk according to your way, in as much as righteousness will never leave you; with you will be their dwelling, and with you their lot, and they will not be separated from you, for ever (chapt. 71).

We know Enoch was translated into heaven alive as evidenced by the following scripture.

Gen. 5:24
24 And Enoch walked with God: and he was not; for God took him.

Heb. 11: 5 By faith Enoch was translated that he should not see death; and was not found, because God had translated him: for before his translation he had this testimony, that he pleased God.

This leaves us with many questions. Later Judaism took this to mean that Enoch saw in the son of man a vision of his own higher self. Dare we connect this vision where Enoch is identified as that person sitting on the throne as the “son of Man” with Yahshua?

Food for thought. When we speak of the Two witnesses in the Tribulation we normally identify them as Moshe and Elijah. Some identify Enoch. What if Enoch was in truth Yahshua? If this were the case it would cause us to look at current theology in a different perspective. What of John the Baptist who came in the spirit of Elijah. Malachi 4: 5 Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the LORD: And Yahshua said in Matthew 11: 10 when He spoke of John the Baptist: “For this is he (Elijah) , of whom it is written, Behold, I send my messenger before thy face, which shall prepare thy way before thee.” These are precisely the questions Kabbalah considers and in my opinion do not always come up with the right answers and neither do we. Instead of branding a discipline as outside of consideration we should examine in light of the Messianic Scriptures these ageless questions that the priesthood considered millennia ago.

We will continue this study by considering more of the Book of Enoch.

[1] Abraham Abulafia, The rose of Mysteries [Soshan Sodoth], trans. Aryeh kaplan, in Meditation and Kabbalah (York Beach, Maine: Samuel Weiser, 1982); pp. 109-110
[2] R.H Charles, ed. And trans., The Book of Enoch or 1 Enoch (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1912) p. 67