Ezekiel and the Wheels

Now it came to pass in the thirtieth year, in the fourth month, on the fifth day of the month, as I was among the captives by the River Chebar, that the heavens were opened and I saw visions of God. On the fifth day of the month, which was in the fifth year of King Jehoiachin’s captivity, the word of the Lord came expressly to Ezekiel the priest, the son of Buzi, in the land of the Chaldeans by the River Chebar; and the hand of the Lord was upon him there.

Ezekiel 1:1-28

Then I looked, okay

Then I looked and I beheld

by which I mean I perceived it through the twinned faculties of sight and apprehension

and what I beheld was a whirlwind

the whirlwind was

A. coming

B. coming out of the north

C. which places me in the south

D. a great cloud with raging fire engulfing itself

E. The whirlwind was on fire with itself

F. The wind was on fire and the fire was swallowing itself

G. All this was simultaneous with cloud

H. In sum: The whirlwind was approaching, heading south, the whirlwind was a cloud; the cloud was on fire, the cloud was not fire but the cloud was on fire; the fire was consuming both the cloud and the fire

I. Brightness was all around it

J. We can infer that the whirlwind-cloud was on fire, was raging with fire, was being engulfed by fire, but was not bright

K. Therefore the fire did not produce the brightness

L. The brightness was external to, distinct from, caused by something else than, the fire

M. But the brightness was also radiating out of its midst like the color of amber

N. The brightness was radiating out of the midst of the fire

O. Begotten, not made, n’est-ce pas?

P. Meaning the brightness was of the same substance as the fire but not made by it

Q. Perhaps I am getting ahead of myself

R. I was standing to the south

  • In the north there is nothing

  • In the north is golden splendor

  • The north is scattered and cold

  • When there is brightness in the skies men cannot look at it

  • But I looked and I beheld a bright cloud from the north

  • Therefore I am either not a man, or I was not truly looking

S. Another thing the cloud produced was the likeness of four living creatures

T. There is no difference between the image of four living creatures and the likeness of four living creatures

U. But there may be a difference between four living creatures and the likeness of four living creatures

V. I am not qualified to adjudicate such differences

W. I just behold here

X. This was their appearance: They had the likeness of a man

Y. The likeness was of four living creatures; the creatures had the likeness of a man

Z. Likeness being an attribute that can be held multiply, possibly simultaneously

They had a likeness and I looked at it

(“this is the ideal male body — you may not like it — but — this is what peak performance looks like”)

They had four faces each, making sixteen faces in total

They had four wings each, making sixteen wings in total

The soles of their feet were like the soles of calves’ feet, but they were not calves’ feet

The hands of a man were under their wings, but their hands were not men’s hands

Their wings touched one another

All of them were moving straight ahead

You could say they were hustling

You could say they were making smoke

You could say they were laying down tracks

You could say they hadn’t come out of the north to fuck around

They went straight forward and they went wherever the spirit wanted to go and the spirit did not want to turn and the spirit wanted to go straight straight forward straight south

I haven’t told you everything about their faces, of which there were sixteen, of which each creature had four,

I told you the creatures had the likeness of a man but not only the likeness of a man

Each had a man’s face and a lion’s face and an ox’s face and an eagle’s face, straight right left other

That’s it

They looked forward left right back but they only moved in one direction

And also they looked like coals burning with fire

The cloud was on fire and the creatures looked like they were on fire

Also it looked like there were torches going back and forth among them

And the fire was bright and the fire also engendered brightness

Out of the fire came likeness

Here then is the scale of the fire:

  1. Cloud: engulfed with raging fire

  2. Fire: producing brightness external to the cloud

  3. Fire: bright within the cloud

  4. Creatures: of a fiery appearance, but not likeness

  5. Between the creatures: the appearance of torches

  6. The torches: bright fire

  7. Bright fire: making lightning

I said the creatures did not turn as they moved forward because they did not want to turn

Their spirits did not want to turn and so they did not turn

But they did run back and forth

As they ran back and forth they appeared like a flash of lightning

Therefore it is not strictly correct to distinguish the creatures appearing like lightning and the torch-appearances that produced lightning as they went back and forth between the creatures

Everyone was moving and turning into lightning but nobody was stepping out of line

I was still in the south, still looking, one face up at sixteen

There were wheels too

I forgot to tell you about the wheels

There was a lot to behold and there was so much lightning and everything was coming straight out of the north all at the same time, turning but not turning aside, going back and forth but also straight forward and I didn’t have time to write it all down until a lot later

The likeness of all the wheels was — you guessed it — the same

The appearance of the wheels and their workings was like the color of beryl

Beryl can be green, yellow, white, blue, red, purple, pink, orange, or brown, but most commonly emerald or aquamarine. Does that mean:

A. The appearance of the wheels was like beryl

B. The wheels were like beryl

C. The wheels were beryl

D. The appearance of the wheels was beryl

E. There were wheels within the wheels

F. My head hurts

They moved but did not turn aside

You haven’t asked me about the rims of the wheels yet

They were awesome,

they were full of eyes,

They went wherever the living creatures went,

(you’ll remember that the living creatures had four faces each,

two eyes per face, four faces per creature, four living creatures within the fire and the brightness,

for a total of thirty-two embodied eyes,

Therefore if X equals the number of eyes on each wheel-rim,

and each wheel was two wheels in one,

and there was one two-in-one-wheel per creature,

solve for X. Hurry, because there’s a great storm coming out of the north. Show your work. Remember that the wheels go where the spirit goes.)

Now the wings are spread out straight,

where two of the wings were spread out to touch the wings of each living creature, leaving two folded across the body

Wait

I mean each had two which covered one side, and each had two which covered the other side of the body

But everything was moving straight ahead and the sky was a stretched-out crystal, awesome

That which was awesome was the firmament above their heads, and the rims of their wheels

And the wings sounded like many waters,

like the noise of an army,

and the creatures let down their wings wherever they stood

Standing and going back and forth and turning and never-turning, covering the body and stretching out straight, never moving, going where the spirit wanted to go, standing still

But wait

there’s more

The firmament over their heads was the likeness of a throne

and the likeness of the throne in appearance was of a sapphire stone

On the likeness of the throne was another likeness

The likeness on the likeness of the throne (in appearance like a sapphire stone) had the appearance of a man

The likeness of the appearance of a man was high above the throne

Not sitting on it, high above it

Everything was like something else and all things were exactly as they were

The like-looking man had a waist

From the waist upwards his appearance was the color of amber with the appearance of fire all around within it

Remember the great cloud bearing down out of the north that was on fire and surrounded by brightness, and also producing brightness in its midst

Is the fire around, within, within around, or around within?

Show your work

From the waist downward I saw

as it were

the appearance of fire with brightness all around

and in color like the appearance of a rainbow,

in a cloud,

on a rainy day

so was it bright-appearing all around

This is what the likeness of the glory of God appears like,

not what glory appears like,

nor what God appears like,

nor what the likeness is,

only the appearance of the likeness.

More wheels, more eyes, more weight.