The interpretation of the four great beasts (Dan 7:16-7:18)

“I approached

One of the attendants

To ask him

The truth

Concerning all this.

So,

He said

That he would disclose

To me.

The interpretation

Of the matter.

‘As for these four great beasts,

Four kings

Shall arise

Out of the earth.

But the holy ones

Of the Most High God

Shall receive the kingdom.

They shall possess

The kingdom forever,

Forever and ever.’”

In a strange way, Daniel approached one of the people in his dream or vision to ask for an interpretation of his dream. In fact, it seems to be just one of the attendants standing around there. Daniel wanted to know the truth and the interpretation about these 4 beasts. Then, this attendant told him that the 4 beasts were 4 kings that rose up and ruled. However, the holy ones of the Most High God got possession of the kingdom. They were then going to have possession of this kingdom forever. It was not clear whether the other 4 kings had ruled this same kingdom or other kingdoms.

The vision of the four winds (Dan 7:2-7:2)

“I!

Daniel!

Saw in my vision,

By night,

The four winds

Of heaven

Stirring up

The great sea.”

Clearly, the first-person singular indicates that this is no longer a description about Daniel, but Daniel himself writing about his dream or vision. He had this vision at night, as he saw the 4 winds of heaven stirring up the great sea, the Mediterranean Sea.

The name of the city (Ezek 48:35-48:35)

“The circumference of the city

Shall be eighteen thousand cubits.

The name of the city

From that time on,

Shall be

Yahweh is there.”

Ezekiel ended his work by naming this new city, ‘Yahweh is there.’ This city was 18,000 cubits around. So, Ezekiel ended the way he began, with a vision that had a lot of details in it.

Ezekiel is brought to a high mountain in Israel (Ezek 40:1-40:2)

“In the twenty-fifth year

Of our exile,

At the beginning

Of the year,

On the tenth day

Of the month,

In the fourteenth year

After the city

Was struck down,

On that very day,

The hand of Yahweh

Was upon me.

He brought me there.

He brought me,

In visions of God,

To the land of Israel.

He set me down

On a very high mountain.

There was a structure,

Like a city,

To the south.”

This is the last section of the Book of Ezekiel. This is sometimes called the Torah of Ezekiel, because he sets out the size and rules for the Temple, after the exile. Like Moses, many centuries earlier, Ezekiel has his own very specific descriptions about how this Second Temple should be constructed. Once again, Ezekiel has a vision on a precise date, on the 10th day of the 1st month, the 25th year since the beginning of the exile, the 14th year after the destruction of Jerusalem, 573 BCE. Continuing with his first-person singular narrative, he said that he was brought to a high mountain in Israel with a great city to the south.

The living creatures were cherubim (Ezek 10:20-10:22)

“These were the living creatures

That I saw underneath

The God of Israel

By the river Chebar.

I knew

That they were cherubim.

Each had four faces.

Each had four wings.

Underneath their wings,

They had something

Like human hands.

As for what their faces

Were like,

They were the same faces

Whose appearance

I had seen

By the river Chebar.

Each one moved

Straight ahead.”

The vision of the first chapter of this book matches up with this chapter as two book ends of a vision about the four living creatures and cherubim. Ezekiel explicitly said that he knew that the living creatures by the Chebar River were cherubim. Each of them had four faces and four wings. Underneath their wings, they had something like human hands. The faces of these cherubim were the same as the faces that he saw at the River Chebar. Both the living creatures and the cherubim moved straight ahead.

 

The distress of everybody (Ezek 7:25-7:27)

“When anguish comes,

They will seek peace.

But there shall be none.

Disaster comes

Upon disaster.

Rumor follows

Rumor.

They shall keep

Seeking a vision

From the prophet.

Instruction shall perish

From the priest.

Counsel shall fail

From the elders.

The king mourns.

The prince shall be

Wrapped in despair.

The hands

Of the people

Of the land

Shall tremble.

According to their way,

I will deal with them.

According to their own judgments

I will judge them.

They shall know

That I am Yahweh.”

Yahweh concluded this oracle or vision to Ezekiel. In these times of trouble, they would seek peace, but there would be none. Disaster would come upon disaster. Rumor would follow rumor. They would keep looking for a vision from their prophets, but none would come. The priests would fail to instruct them. Counsel from the elders would fail. The king would mourn. The princes would be in despair. The hands of the land people would tremble. According to their ways, Yahweh would deal with them. According to their own judgments, Yahweh would judge them. They would know that Yahweh God was in charge. He was Yahweh.

The rumbling sound (Ezek 3:12-3:13)

“Then the Spirit

Lifted me up.

The glory of Yahweh

Rose from its place.

I heard behind me

The sound

Of loud rumbling.

It was the sound

Of the wings

Of the living creatures

Brushing

Against one another.

It was the sound

Of the wheels beside them.

They sounded

Like a loud rumbling.”

The Spirit of Yahweh or the Holy Spirit lifted up Ezekiel. He saw the glory of Yahweh rise up from its place. This glory of Yahweh was the presence of Yahweh outside of the Jerusalem Temple. Then Ezekiel heard a loud rumbling sound, the sound of the living creatures brushing their wings against each other. Then there was the also the loud rumbling sound of the wheels beside them.  This vision of Ezekiel had not only a visual element, but an auditory element also.

Can you read the book? (Isa 29:11-29:12)

The vision of all this

Has become for you

Like the words of a sealed document.

If it is given to those

Who can read,

With the command.

‘Read this!’

They say.

‘We cannot.

Because it is sealed.’

If it is given to those

Who cannot read,

Saying.

‘Read this!’

They say.

‘We cannot read.’”

These few verses seem to be an addition about how revelation is hidden. This vision about the future is like a sealed document or scroll that you cannot read. Even if you are told to read it, you cannot, because it is sealed. In fact, the same thing happens to those who cannot read, whether the document is sealed or not. They still cannot read it, because they do not know how to read. This pertained to the majority of the people, since only about 5-15% of the Israelite people could read.

Ezekiel (Sir 49:8-49:8)

“It was Ezekiel

Who saw

The vision of glory

That God showed him

Above the chariot

Of the cherubim.”

Sirach once again could refer to the biblical Book of Ezekiel (622-570 BCE), a contemporary of Jeremiah, the 3rd of the 3 major prophets. However, he merely gets one simple sentence. Ezekiel saw a vision of glory with chariots and cherubim.

David, the anointed one (Ps 89:19-89:28)

“Then you spoke in a vision

To your faithful one.

You said.

‘I have set the crown

On one who is mighty.

I have exalted one chosen from the people.

I have found my servant David.

With my holy oil

I have anointed him.

My hand shall always remain with him.

My arm also shall strengthen him.

The enemy shall not outwit him.

The wicked shall not humble him.

I will crush his foes before him.

I will strike down those who hate him.

My faithfulness shall be with him.

My steadfast love shall be with him.

In my name shall his horn be exalted.

I will set his hand on the sea.

I will set his right hand on the rivers.

He shall cry to me.

‘You are my Father!

You are my God!

You are the rock of my salvation!’

I will make him the first born.

I will make him the highest of the kings of the earth.

I will keep by steadfast love for him forever.

My covenant with him will stand firm.’”

This section is based on 2 Samuel, chapter 4, when the prophet Nathan had a vision or dream from Yahweh about the building of the Temple, the importance of David, and his role. David was to be the faithful one. The crown was placed on this mighty servant of God. He was chosen from the people to be the anointed one as king. The hand and arm of Yahweh would remain with David, so that his enemies and the wicked ones would not outwit him or humble him. Yahweh would be with him, so that his hands and arms would control the rivers and the seas. He would cry to Yahweh because Yahweh was his father, his God, and his rock of salvation. Yahweh would keep his steadfast love and covenant with David forever.