The Spirit World
A FALSE NOTION requires other inaccuracies to support it, and, as a consequence, truth becomes increasingly obscured. Much teaching, professedly based on the Scriptures, can, at the best estimate, be considered as theory. But when confusion is allowed to assume theory as fact, then we have a deplorable situation, and the only escape from our plight is to cast theory to the moles and bats, and rigidly examine the facts. This may be a slow and tedious process, but it is one which will ultimately give satisfying results. Such examination must be thorough, and, in our case, because we deal with the word of God, we must be prepared to go beneath all versions and get down to concordant and consistent translation.
The foregoing observations are prompted by meditation upon the theological notions regarding Satan. The lack of real examination of the Scriptures on this matter is especially notable, and the passages which have been forced to buttress the theory that Satan is a fallen angel are little short of a tragedy, both as regards method as well as results. Ezekiel 28, particularly the section which speaks of the king, of Tyre, is a favorite passage on which to base assumptions showing that Satan is there spoken of in figure. Is the king not distinguished from the “prince?” The very plausibility seems to freeze our minds and prevent investigation; we seem unable to look below the surface, and so we go on to formulate another query: Is not the king of Tyre said to be the Anointed Cherub? And, further, was he not in Eden, the garden of God? Surely such details must refer to Satan!
That there are problems in Ezekiel twenty-eight is not denied, but it is suggested that these will only be solved by patience on the part of those who seek to sift the facts, not of a translation, but of the text of the original. Truth does not yield itself to the superficial considerations which seek to ignore or explain away the plain scriptural statement that the Adversary is sinning from the beginning (1 John 3:8).
Before any exegesis be attempted, the first necessity is to be certain concerning the rendering, or, better still, to deal directly with the original text. The following translation of Ezekiel 28:11-19 is therefore submitted. Afterwards, the new features will be discussed as well as related problems.
A careful reading of the foregoing and comparison with the Authorized Version will reveal several distinct differences, and also that two of the major statements of the Authorized Version concerning the king of Tyre must go. Moreover, the way is opened to make a real consideration, not only of these changes based on the language of the Hebrew, but also the reason for the cherub being spoken of in the discourse. It is claimed that the latter will much enhance our understanding of the cherubim.
The tentative translation given above really takes us beyond the first objectives of this article. Lest its main purpose be obscured and lost amidst the details of the proposed adjustments, some of the paragraphs will discuss vital matters in the light of the Authorized Version and its connection with the Hebrew text.
Critical examination of the Hebrew, and comparison with the LXX brings features to the surface which lead us to adopt some of the adjustments in the foregoing translation. A brief explanation of some of the changes may be welcomed.
The word “sealest” of verse twelve of the Authorized Version is not a verb in the Hebrew. It refers to the seal on a signet, and is so rendered by the Authorized Version. The Hebrew word rendered “sum” occurs but once elsewhere, viz., Ezekiel 43:10, and in this case the Authorized Version translates it “pattern,” noting “sum or number” in the margin. From Ezekiel 43:10 we may realize the difficulty in the Hebrew word, which is thknith. The translators were constrained to give a sense agreeable to the context rather than the Hebrew word. In the two occurrences of this word, the LXX rather agrees with the Hebrew thbnith, which signifies model, and is synonymous with the Authorized Version “pattern.” The difference between the Hebrew letters k and b is very slight, and this will be understood by those familiar with the Hebrew letters. An up-to-date example of this may be seen in the index to Wigram’s Englishman’s Hebrew Concordance where, under the word pattern, thknith of page 1347 is printed thbnith. It seems that we must accept the LXX understanding, for it is so agreeable to the associated word seal-print.
The word “covering” (verse 14) belongs to the word family of OVERSHADOW, and appears to be after the grammatical form of the piel participle. Without the initial m it is rendered booth, tabernacle, and pavilion in the Authorized Version. At this stage of investigation, we render the m form as booth-like, supplying the word pavilion to complete the sense. The other cases (verses 14 and 16) which are kal participles, we render by booth. These renderings seem to be more suitable than our Authorized Version in these cases.
The rendering “workmanship” in the Authorized Version (verse 13) represents the Hebrew word, mlakth, but it was not so understood by the LXX. They seem to have read mlath, which is the verb, you fill. It would appear that the two final letters of mlakth have become transposed, and the k probably belongs, as an initial letter, to the word thphik (AV, thy tabrets). This makes the word to be kthph, signifying SHOULDER, figuring the side of a building. The LXX renders this by the Greek word treasure.
In line with this, we find the LXX read the Hebrew nqb (AV, pipes) as having the significance of store. In Numbers 25:8 we have qbbe; this is the feminine form, and has been subjected to apheresis, which takes away an initial unaccounted letter, similar to that which happens in the case of our words esquire and ’squire. The b of the Hebrew word is doubled in compensation for the elision. Now our Authorized Version renders qbbe by tent; it indicates an antechamber, and so we suggest alcove. Nqb occurs as a proper name, Job 19:33, and the lexicons give cavern as its meaning, which confirms the suggestion here made.
We now turn to another kind of difference, that of division into sentences. It is well understood that both the Hebrew and Greek division into sentences and verses is the work of textual editors, and so we are not bound to follow them, provided significant sense is maintained.
In the present study, the sentence construction is also influenced by the word “workmanship” of the Authorized Version, and of course its Hebrew equivalent. Since we make this to be the verb, you fill, we must modify our sentences, or we shall have too many verbs. Thus the “was prepared” of the Authorized Version (verse 13) finds its object in the word which commences verse fourteen, but the Hebrew for “was prepared” is not necessarily the passive form; it can be active, and so the Hebrew ath, discussed in a later paragraph, points out the object. Thus we render: they establish the anointed cherub’s booth.
This adjustment of verbs requires that we construe the words “in the holy mountain of God” as being accusative to “I bestow.” Also “you come to be” with “in the midst of the fiery gems.” Then “you walk” as with “flawless in your ways.” By close attention, these details will be understood, and it will be observed that the supplied verbs of the Authorized Version are not required, yet we have a vigorous and intelligible sense.
THE GOVERNOR IS ALSO THE KING
It will be well to first discuss the connection of these verses with those of the prior section of the chapter which the Authorized Version makes to be speaking of the “prince of Tyre.” Can this one be the same as the king of Tyre? The Authorized Version translates eleven Hebrew words by the word prince and it behooves us therefore to enquire whether the one here used is really prince. The Hebrew is ngid; some of the Authorized Version renderings are captain, chief, governor, leader, noble, and ruler. The words signify governor, and its usage reveals several interesting details.
Saul was anointed to be governor over Israel (1 Sam.9:16) and was later proclaimed king at Mizpeh (1 Sam.10:17-27). David also was commanded by Yahweh to be governor (1 Sam.13:14), and this issued in his being king. It is also recorded of Solomon that he was king and governor (1 Chron.29:22). It is obvious that the word ngid names the function of the king, and consequently both king and governor may be said of the same person. On the other hand, the term governor may be used of those who assist the king (see 1 Chron.13:1). There are a number of other interesting instances, but these will be sufficient to show that the governor of Tyre is most likely the king of Tyre also, merely differentiated to emphasize another angle of his overthrow. Neither the arrogance, nor the wisdom of the governor of Tyre preserved him. Nor did the luxury and apparent flawlessness protect the king of Tyre. The governor of Tyre was a man, and the king of Tyre is said to be known among the peoples, and to become ash on the earth in the sight of all.
Such features entirely remove the king from consideration as other than a human, and at the same time tend to confirm that the governor and king are one and the same person. Other details around the king indicate the eminence he had, and also lift the curtain to reveal the position God had afforded him in relation to the supreme and effective agencies by which the earth is governed under God’s economy.
The dirge against the king of Tyre opens with a terse description: You are the seal-print of a model, full of wisdom, and consummate in loveliness. This epitomizes the glory of the king, and is elaborated in verses thirteen and fourteen. The consummate loveliness is expanded in verse thirteen, and the fullness of wisdom finds its correspondence in verse fourteen, for the king’s sagacity was such that Adonai bestows him with the overshadowing, anointed cherub. The model is explained in verse fifteen as the king’s ways being flawless. The ancient splendor of the city of Tyre can be judged by its ruins, and these agree with the glory here ascribed to the king, its governor.
IN LUXURY, NOT IN EDEN
The change from the Authorized Version rendering “Thou hast been in Eden, the garden of God” calls for a remark. The suggested presence in Eden of the Tyrian king has been a problem, and no explanation has been satisfactory. Our versions have treated the Hebrew word odn as a proper noun, a name, but this does not give a sense fully agreeable to the surrounding context, besides creating other insurmountable difficulties. If we regard odn as a general term and render it by a word which gives its significance, we then reach a sense fully pertinent to the drift of the passage, and solve our problem in regard to Eden. At the same time, we realize that the words “garden of God” are not a repetition of what would be meant by Eden, but are, in fact, required to complete the statement: You come to be in the luxury of the garden of God.
The wisdom of the king corresponds with that of the governor, wiser than Daniel. From the governor, no secret was hid. His understanding seemed merely to afford the acquisition of immense riches and treasures. These banished the flawlessness from the king’s ways, and the real inwardness of the heart was then found. It revolted against Adonai and showed ignorance and lack of realization that all the luxury and splendor of position was actually due to God’s economy, rather than to human ability and prowess.
TWO ASPECTS OF THE SAME MATTER
The separation of Adonai Yahweh’s messages under the titles of “governor of Tyre” and “king of Tyre” is to show more plainly that the normal course of events is not divorced from God’s administrating. To the governor, it is shown that God is watching and ordering the rise and fall of Tyre. To the king the more intimate connection of Adonai to his position is revealed: they established the anointed cherub’s booth. This declares to the king something which his wisdom failed to understand. He did not perceive that Adonai had set him for rule and order in his section of the earth, that he, in his God-given kingly capacity, was an agent of God for the good of his people, and, as such, should restrain evil and not promote it.
NOT THE CHERUB
There is an infelicity in the Authorized Version rendering “Thou art the anointed cherub,” and it is quite important that we make the adjustment, for it controls the sense. The italics of the Authorized Version are supplied words, and, if correct, are admissible. The Hebrew word ath may be either the pronoun you or indicate the object of the verb. Since ath as a pronoun, without the pointing, is the feminine form, and the words king and cherub are masculine, the rendering as a pronoun must be ruled out, and so we do not require to supply the substantive verb “art.” This gives us ath krub, which must be accusative rather than nominative. We find confirmation of this when we perceive that the Authorized Version rendering “and I have set thee” is without an object as indicated by the supplied “so.” We may therefore render; they establish the anointed cherub’s booth.
The difficulty that the king of Tyre was the anointed cherub is thus resolved into a matter which reveals God’s effective government over the earth, and, if we follow this indication, it is suggested that we shall receive an insight into the fact that God rules supreme over earth’s affairs. This will require that we consider the cherubim and endeavor to obtain fuller understanding of their function in the universe and the earth.
THE CHERUB DESTROYS THE KING
Before taking up the cherubim, we will first discuss another inapt rendering, in verse sixteen, which reads thus in the Authorized Version: And I will destroy thee, O covering cherub. The details of the employment and activities of the cherubim ought to cause us to question the Authorized Version rendering that a cherub should require to be destroyed; that a human should be termed a cherub is quite out of keeping with the scriptural references to these creatures. Their connection with judgment suggests that the action would be by the cherub rather than against it. And this agrees with the result of our examination of the prior verse fourteen, from which we saw that the pavilion of the king of Tyre was associated with the cherub’s booth. The king’s office supplemented that of the anointed cherub in whom the authority over Tyre really resided.
The solution of our problem concerning the verb destroy, abd, lies in the fact that, divested of the pointings, it may be either first or third person, and since considerations point out that the king of Tyre was not the cherub, then it is fully agreeable to decide that it must be third person, and hence should be rendered: And destroying you is the cherub of the booth. These changes bring the references to the cherub into line with all other cases in the Scriptures, for they are employed to check the powers of evil and keep them within God’s requirements.
TYRE WITHIN THE BOUNDS OF THE HOLY MOUNT
The statement that the king of Tyre comes to be in the holy mountain of God seems to require to be understood in reference to the land of Israel. We must first note that the preposition should be “in” not “upon” as rendered in the Authorized Version. This is in keeping with the geographical situation of Tyre. Israel is God’s holy mount (Ezek.20:40), and its land is apparently looked upon as such also. The city of Jerusalem is also spoken of as God’s holy mount (Dan.9:16,20), whilst Daniel 11:45 seems to require the whole land to be so considered. Thus speak Isaiah 57:13 and Jeremiah 31:23. In reference to the future, a journey to Israel will be a journey to Yahweh’s mount. God’s coming kingdom will also be His holy mount (Isa.11:9). This understanding relieves us of holding any recondite idea, and makes the statement to be quite normal. We thus come to perceive that, of old, Tyre held a place in relation to God’s ordering of His kingdom for Israel. The nations around had their function and office in God’s government, but, like Israel, they overstepped and violated their assigned positions and duties, and God restrained them according to His counsel, and by the functionaries of His throne who operated according to Adonai’s fiat.
THE KING ASSOCIATED WITH THE CHERUB
That the king of Tyre comes to be in the midst of the fiery gems tells us in figure that he was in his ruling capacity associated with the cherub who really was charged with control in its initial aspect. This may be deduced from the mention of fire in the details of the cherub vision seen in Ezekiel (see 1:4,13,27; 8:2; 10:6,7). The fire in the visions was used to judge Jerusalem. And so, when saying that the king of Tyre is in the midst of the fiery gems, this seems to signify that it was his duty to judge in the earth by reason of the authority invested in the cherub. Probably the precious gems enumerated in verse thirteen are the stones of fire, emblems of the dignity of the king.
We should not find any difficulty in the word create, for this must not necessarily be confined to the particular aspect that we have when Adam was created. The features of any creation must be based upon the requirements of the case. Ezekiel speaks of the Ammonite being created (21:30); similarly, in 21:19 we have: choose (create) thou a place, choose (create) it at the head of the way to the city. A creation is something new, and thus the rise of a city or a nation is spoken of as its creation, and any detail is part thereof.
Having discussed difficulties concerning the king of Tyre, it may be now desirable to briefly consider the cherubim, especially as it has emerged that the king of Tyre was not a cherub. In the course of our examination, hints have been made which really anticipate matters regarding these beings, and it is hoped that such observations may have prepared the ground for a fuller understanding of their reality and position in the Scriptures. If so, then we have reason to be thankful to God that His Word does instruct rather than perplex.
THE VISION OF EZEKIEL
In Ezekiel, the cherubim are perhaps more prominent than in any other section of the Scriptures. Doubtless, there is good reason for this. Are we able to discover it? If so, it will help our understanding. This prophet is much concerned with the evil in Israel, and with its restraint. The series of visions and their accompanying messages issue in the judging and deposing of Israel from the position which Yahweh had given to them. Throughout the book the title Adonai, that is, Adjudicator, is associated with the title Yahweh. The nations around Israel are also dealt with; their expressed pleasure at Israel’s plight is an affront to Adonai Yahweh. The nations do not understand that they are assigned their positions in relation to Israel, and so they must learn of the glory, majesty, and judgment of Yahweh. When the several nations have been subjected to correction, the visions return to the establishing of Israel in their land in that future day when they will fully display Yahweh’s glory and respond to his choice of them.
GOD’S PRESENCE ORDERS EVENTS
The reason for the controlling movements in the visions being around the cherubim seems to emphasize that God’s presence is peculiarly in the upheaval of Israel and the nations. They are not haphazard movements, but God is, through the cherubim, restraining the existing evil and ordering the future which shall realize His will.
The presence of the cherubim indicates coming judgment. In Ezekiel, they are beneath the throne, whilst in the Unveiling they are incorporated into the throne. The first mention of them in Genesis 3:24 employs them to guard the way to the tree of life, and in the holy of holies, overshadowing the lid of the ark containing the law, we see their zeal and concern for God’s law. In the tabernacle and temple, they are much in evidence, being almost a center of the service, possibly reminding of the divine presence therein, and the importance of the law and worship.
In visions, God’s presence seems to be indicated by the cherubim. Hezekiah realized this when he spread the king of Assyria’s letter before Yahweh in Yahweh’s house, praying to Him Who dwells between the cherubim, recognizing Him as the God of all the kingdoms of the earth (2 Kings 19:15). Yahweh responds to Hezekiah’s prayer, and Sennacherib was restrained.
GOD’S GOVERNMENTAL AGENTS
It would seem that the cherubim are the prime agents in God’s government of the earth. God has supreme and effective control of it, which is carried out by manifold agencies, but we see only the instrumental aspect, as when one nation overthrows another, and the Scriptures reveal it to be of God. When we read about the cherubim in visions, then we see God’s throne in operation, and the cherubim take part in His government. They are related to the authority of God as displayed in directing the affairs of the earth, and hence, because of the way which earthly matters take, this directing usually issues in judgment. The cherubim thus are employed to check the powers of evil, for they are the divinely constituted delegates of the earth, over and above the human. The cherubim forward essential good and frustrate evil, for they are always subservient to the fiat of God. If the cherubim are the primary means of God’s ministry of earth’s affairs, then such as the king of Tyre are but the remote agents.
The cherubim, then, are executives of God’s rule and should be distinguished from the emblems used to represent them. They have a flexibility in details of form, which doubtless corresponds to the particular requirements of the vision. When seen in vision they seem especially to depict the glory of God’s throne as it threatens judgment.
SIGNIFICANCE OF THE WORD CHERUB
The derivation of the word cherub is not without interest, especially in regard to their being representative. It is a compound word of two parts, k signifies as and rub meaning many, thus as-many, or, made a little more English, like-many. In figure, they are the likeness of many earthly things and deal with the dominion which is in the hands of man over sentient creatures, animal and human, populating the earth. They seek the good of the living, and are themselves also spoken of under the general title of “Living Ones.”
SATAN DECEIVES — CHERUBIM CHECK EVIL
From our considerations it should become obvious to us that not only is the king of Tyre not a cherub, but also that the cherub cannot be the Adversary and Satan. The function and employment of the cherubim are opposite to that of the Dragon, that ancient serpent, called Adversary and Satan. It deceives the nations and promotes evil. The cherubim check the powers of evil.
E. H. Clayton
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