Study of the Prophets: Ezekiel: Further Introduction and Begin Chapter 1

We are entering into the Apocalyptic age that both Yahshua and John preached about, in fact, they both could be best characterized as apocalyptic teachers.

As we enter into the study of this important book let me say that it is very sad that the Sadducean priesthood as well as the Essenes in the time of Yahshua because of their oath of secrecy failed to reveal their secret doctrine to the Jewish populace. Had they done so it might have changed Jewish destiny in the same way that this doctrine in somewhat of a different form was taken by Christianity to the world. As it happened the Pharisaic tradition carried over in its traditions only the externals of the priestly culture, its code of purity, without its allied doctrine of individual salvation, a loss of the mystical understanding from which traditional Judaism has suffered to this day.

Daniel and Ezekiel are the basis of apocalyptic teaching. In both books we are exposed to visions where each author sees a form he identifies as the “Son of Man” (Ben Adam) which has a remarkable future history in the later apocalypses. This “Son of Man” is none other than Yahshua haMashiach. Yahshua also identifies Himself repeatedly in the Messianic Scriptures as the “Son of Man.” Ezekiel no less than 87 times in his book refers to this “Son of Man” which he sees on the chariot throne.

This is the foundation of apocalyptic teaching. This is the secret doctrine that is a part of the Kabbalah. Long before Christianity this doctrine of a divine man/god was known to the priests who failed to disseminate it to the populace because it was thought to dangerous in the hands of the uninitiated and they took an oath to keep it secret except from the very elite.

This doctrine is none other than Apocalyptic Christianity. It is Merkavah (Chariot’s Throne). I pondered if I should teach from this doctrine in correspondence with Ezekiel because it is so closely associated with Ezekiel, and Kabbalah is thought by some to be occult.  Yet, it is important to show Christian theology’s indebtedness to it. Since Kabbalah can be misused and misunderstood by the spiritually immature I elected to teach this only with the provision that I show the falsity of Kabbalah’s misapplication by those mentioned and its authenticity where applicable.

This promises to be an interesting and exciting study, however deep.

The first chapter of the book of Ezekiel is called in English “The Account of the Chariot.” The first three verses give the time and place of the vision, with the remaining verses describing the vision. Ezekiel speaks of the workings of the Heavenly Throne. But this is such a complex subject far removed from human understanding, that the Sages of the Talmud strictly limited permission to expound on the teachings. The subject deals with supernatural concepts written in human terms. They cannot be understood in the “P’shat (literal) sense but we must do the best we can to seek the Ruach’s intervention as we search for the teachings to be found in such profound narratives such as this one.

Let’s start at Chapter 1 verse 4-27: “I saw, and behold! There was a stormy wind coming from the north, a great cloud with flashing fire and a brilliance surrounding it; and from its midst, like the color of the Shashmal from the midst of the fire; and in its midst there was the like ness of four Chayos. This was their appearance: They had the likeness of a man; each one had four faces, and each one of them had four wings: their legs were a straight leg, and the soul of their feet was like the soul of a rounded foot, and they glittered with the color of burnished copper; there were human hands under their wings on their four sides. Their faces and their wings [were alike] on the four of them; their wings were joined to one another. They did not turn as they went; each in the direction of its faces would they go. As for the likeness of their faces: There was a human face; and a lion’s face to the right for the four of them; and an ox’s face to the left for the four of them, and an eagles face for the four of them. As for their faces: Their wings extended upward [over them]; for each [face] two [wings] were joined to each other, and two [wings] were covering their bodies. Each in the direction of its faces would they go; toward wherever there was the spirit to go, they would go; they did not turn as they went.

As for the likeness of the Chayos: Their appearance was like fiery coals, burning like the appearance of torches; it spread about among the Chayos; there was a brilliance to the fire, and from the fire went forth lightning. The Chayos ran to and fro like the appearance of a flash. I saw the Chayos- and behold! One Ofan was on the surface near [each of] the Chayos by its four faces. The appearance of the Ophanim and their nature were like the color of tarshish, with the same likeness for the four of them; and their appearance and their works were as if there would be a wheel within a wheel. When they went, they would go toward their four sides; they did not turn as they went. And they had backs, and they were tall and they were fearsome. Their brows were full of eyes surrounding the four of them. When the Chayos would go, the Ophanim would go next to him, and when the Chayos were lifted from upon the surface, the Ofanim were lifted. Toward wherever there was the spirit to go, they would go, [for] there was the spirit to go; the Ofanim were lifted facing them, for the spirit in the Chayah was [also] like the Ofanim. When [the Chayos] would go, [the Ofanim] would go, and when they halted, they halted; and when they were lifted from upon the surface, the Ofanim were lifted facing them, for the spirit in the Chayah was [also] in the Ofanim. There was a likeness of an expanse above the heads of the Chayah, like the color of the awesome ice, spread out over their heads from above. And beneath the expanse, their wings were even one with the other; for each [of them] two [wings] covered them, and for each [of them] two covered them, their bodies. I heard the sound of their wings, like the sound of great waters, like the sound of Shaddai, as they moved, the sound of a commotion, like the sound of a camp; when they would halt, they would release their wings. There was a voice from above the expanse that was over their heads; when they would halt, they would release their wings. Above the expanse that was over their heads was the appearance of sapphire stone in the likeness of a throne, and upon the likeness of the throne there was a likeness like the appearance of a man upon it, from above. And I saw the color of Chashmal, like the appearance of fire inside it all around, from the appearance of his loins and upward; and from the appearance of his loins and downward I saw something like the appearance of fire, and a brilliance surrounding it. Like the appearance of a bow that would be in the clouds on a rainy day, so was the appearance of the brilliance all around. That was the appearance of the likeness of the Glory of HaShem! When I saw, I fell upon my face, and I heard a voice speaking.”

This vision is known 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.

At this point, it would beneficial for you to Then consult Strong’s concordance and define some of the terms found in Ezekiel. Some of the terms are:

  • Amber
  • Speaking Silence-Chashmal
  • Living Creatures-Chayot
  • Wheels-Ophanim


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

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 stormy wind coming from the north metaphorically describes the Divine Throne of Glory carrying the Shechinah. It was coming wrathfully to portend Israel’s impending destruction and Ezekiel uses the metaphor of a stormy wind shrouded by a cloud (Rashi).

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. An alternative explanation is that Ezekiel was shrouded in the vision of the storm, fire, and cloud so that the captives would know that even though they were in exile, the light of HaShem had not left them. Perhaps they made a connection between the column of fire and the cloud that lead their ancestors out of the desert, and the storm that was present when the Torah was given at Sinai. We can only speculate


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) Alternatively, the traditional Jewish interpretation is that the “fire” continues the metaphor of destruction, while the brilliance surrounding it alludes to the ultimate redemption of Israel (Rashi).

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 knowledge of Yahshua as part of the complex unity of the G-dhead.

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. 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 known 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 than 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. 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, so 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 correspond 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 audible 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 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. In a non-Kabbalistic context, storm, cloud, and fire may stimulate one to think of the cloud and fire which lead our ancestors through the desert and the thunder that was present when the Torah was given on Sinai. Recall that Moshe had to ascend through the cloud until he reached the place where G-d would communicate with Him and provide the Tablets. Again, the people then as now needed to persevere; follow the fire and cloud until they reached/reach the Land. This is another example of how we must “tease out” the symbology of words in the correct context of what we are examining. The multiple levels of meanings in Scripture mandate scrutiny and diligent study. However, both interpretations indicate a need to continue our quest to ascend to G-d through all obstacles whether physical or spiritual.

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.

Next week we will continue with the interpretation of Chapter 1.

Shalom v’brachas,

Rabbi Tamah Davis