Study Guide

Book of Ezekiel The Wheels

The Wheels

We're still not finished with the chariot… we haven't got to the crazy wheels that seem to rotate in some remarkably odd way. 

As I looked at the living creatures, I saw a wheel on the earth beside the living creatures, one for each of the four of them. As for the appearance of the wheels and their construction: their appearance was like the gleaming of beryl; and the four had the same form, their construction being something like a wheel within a wheel. When they moved, they moved in any of the four directions without veering as they moved. Their rims were tall and awesome, for the rims of all four were full of eyes all around. When the living creatures moved, the wheels moved beside them; and when the living creatures rose from the earth, the wheels rose. Wherever the spirit would go, they went, and the wheels rose along with them; for the spirit of the living creatures was in the wheels. (1:15-19)

Not only did this inspire a classic African-American spiritual, "Ezekiel Saw The Wheel"—it helped inspire the creation of all those "Ancient Aliens" programs you see on the History Channel (lodged between "Ice Road Truckers" and "Pawn Stars"). Yeah, some people have assumed that these eye-covered wheels are flying saucers. Feel free to take these claims with several grains of salt—or more.

What the wheels do seem to symbolize is God's power and mobility, his omnipotence and omniscience. This vision helped inspire a whole school of visionary practices called "Merkabah Mysticism," where devotees would repeat Ezekiel's vision, having their own experiences of divine power in the form of God's chariot. This went on to influence the development of Kabbalah or Jewish mysticism. (Merkabah means "chariot" in Hebrew.)

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