by D.M. Murdock/Acharya S
Adapted from Did Moses Exist? The Myth of the Israelite Lawgiver
In my books, I show that many biblical stories cannot be taken literally but are in fact based on ancient myths found around the eastern Mediterranean. As were their predecessors, a significant number of these biblical myths are rooted in nature worship, including the widespread reverence of the sun, moon, planets, stars and constellations. This astral mythology, astrolatry or astrotheology can be detected in numerous tales in the Old Testament, including the stories of patriarchs such as Moses and Joshua, as demonstrated in my books Did Moses Exist? and Suns of God, in particular.
As Dr. Robert M. Price states:
“Many of the epic heroes and ancient patriarchs and matriarchs of the Old Testament were personified stars, planets and constellations…”
Ezekiel’s Godly Visions
Knowing these facts of Jewish astrolatry, the enigmatic imagery in the biblical book of Ezekiel (c. 6th cent. BCE) can be analyzed as depicting many aspects of astral religion/astrotheology. In this regard, Ezekiel’s mysterious vision in chapter 1 has been said for centuries to have occurred at the summer solstice. Summer solstice myths hold that the solar hero attains to his or her full glory at this time of year, when the days are the longest and are victorious over the night or “prince of darkness.”
Four Living Creatures
In his account, the heavens open, and Ezekiel sees “visions of God.” The word and hand of the Lord are upon the prophet, who recounts at 1:4-6:
As I looked, behold, a stormy wind came out of the north, and a great cloud, with brightness round about it, and fire flashing forth continually, and in the midst of the fire, as it were gleaming bronze.
And from the midst of it came the likeness of four living creatures. And this was their appearance: they had the form of men, but each had four faces, and each of them had four wings.
Despite popular perception, this tempestuous vision is not of a spaceship with aliens but portrays ancient storm mythology. These four living creatures are called “cherubim” (Ezek 11:22), who, along with the seraphim or “burning ones” on the ark of the covenant, represent “personifications respectively of the dragonlike storm clouds and the serpentine lightnings.”
Ezekiel’s “four living creatures” are described as having the faces of a man, lion, ox and eagle (1:10ff):
As for the likeness of their faces, each had the face of a man in front; the four had the face of a lion on the right side, the four had the face of an ox on the left side, and the four had the face of an eagle at the back.
The four in Ezekiel could be equated with the faces of Baal Tetramorphos, who “had four visages—those of lion, bull, dragon and human—and reported to have been erected centuries earlier in a temple in Jerusalem.”
Ezekiel’s vision has been linked to synagogue zodiacs with Helios and his quadriga chariot in the center, as at Beth Alpha, Israel:
Here is the sun, indeed at the center of the universe, in a chariot controlled by a charioteer, in a vision recalling Ezekiel’s vision of the divine chariot (Ezekiel 1). The charioteer is God, in control of the four horses, over and above the stars and the constellations, that is, over fate and destiny.
Ezekiel’s four beasts evidently symbolize the fixed points of the zodiac, the man equated with Aquarius, the ox or cherub with Taurus, the lion with Leo and the eagle with Scorpio. These points represent the signs immediately after the winter solstice, vernal equinox, summer solstice and autumnal equinox, respectively.
“Ezekiel’s four beasts evidently symbolize the fixed points of the zodiac.”
The association of these biblical four with the solstices and equinoxes or seasons may be indicated by the presence of the seasons in the corners of the synagogue zodiacs, serving as the four “living creatures” pulling the solar chariot.
Concerning this equation, Dr. Jan van Goudoever comments:
The Glory of the Lord, which was seen by Ezekiel, is elsewhere called “Chariot of the Cherubim” and can easily be recognised as a kind of “sun-chariot.” The four “living creatures” are supposed to correspond to four signs of the Zodiac…. In agreement herewith the future city is described as having 12 gates, three gates for each direction…. And in his vision of the future Temple, Ezekiel saw the Glory of the Lord returning through the eastern gate.
Thus, Ezekiel’s chariot is that of the sun and zodiac, with the 12 “gates” or signs and an eastern entrance where the sun god rises.
The Chariot or Merkabah of the Sun
The coglike “wheel within a wheel” of Ezekiel 1:15-19 thus could describe not only a sun chariot but also a zodiacal configuration:
Now as I looked at the living creatures, I saw a wheel upon 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 a chrysolite; and the four had the same likeness, their construction being as it were a wheel within a wheel. When they went, they went in any of their four directions without turning as they went. The four wheels had rims and they had spokes; and their rims were full of eyes round about. And when the living creatures went, the wheels went beside them; and when the living creatures rose from the earth, the wheels rose.
Concerning Ezekiel’s cherubim, wings and wheels, Jamieson, Fausset and Brown mention the “symbolical figures, somewhat similar” of the Chaldeans/Assyrians that “symbolize the astronomical zodiac, or the sun and celestial sphere, by a circle of wings or irradiations.”
These “wheels” or ophanim, a word referring also to an order of angels, make up the sapphire-like “throne” or “chariot” (merkabah) of conveyance in which, Ezekiel 1:26-28 claims, rides the Lord, as in the “Yahu” coin from Gaza, for example.
A common portrayal of the sun god can be found in the Bible at 2 Kings (23:11), in the “chariots of the sun,” essentially Helios and his quadriga chariot. Other solar charioteers include Apollo, Surya and Krishna. In this same regard, Ezekiel (1:27-28) uses solar imagery to describe Yahweh’s arrival:
And upward from what had the appearance of his loins I saw as it were gleaming bronze, like the appearance of fire enclosed round about; and downward from what had the appearance of his loins I saw as it were the appearance of fire, and there was brightness round about him.
Like the appearance of the bow that is in the cloud on the day of rain, so was the appearance of the brightness round about. Such was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the LORD. And when I saw it, I fell upon my face, and I heard the voice of one speaking.
Here the bright, fiery and brazen glory of the Lord appears like a rainbow in the clouds, solar imagery that could not be more obvious.
The Beasts on the Temple Wall
Guided by Yahweh himself, Ezekiel next has a vision of the temple at Jerusalem, in which the prophet digs into a hole in the wall to discover a door. Behind this aperture lies the sight of “vile abominations” being committed by the 70 Jewish elders. At Ezekiel 8:10-11, the biblical prophet writes:
So I went in and saw; and there, portrayed upon the wall round about, were all kinds of creeping things, and loathsome beasts, and all the idols of the house of Israel. And before them stood seventy men of the elders of the house of Israel, with Ja-azani’ah the son of Shaphan standing among them. Each had his censer in his hand, and the smoke of the cloud of incense went up.
Here we see a discussion of the elders in the temple’s inner sanctum blasphemously worshipping “creeping things and loathsome beasts on the walls,” which may be a reference to the zodiac. The imagery could represent also the polytheistic iconography of the Assyrians, Babylonians, Canaanites and Egyptians, which would indicate that, by Ezekiel’s time (7th-6th cents. BCE), the Jews were maintaining their ancient polytheistic worship, despite the alleged reforms by the Judean kings Hezekiah and Josiah. Indeed, it surmised that the push for monotheism did not begin in earnest until Ezekiel’s time, during the Babylonian exile and for centuries afterwards.
In any event, the “wheel within a wheel” in Ezekiel’s vision clearly refers to the zodiac, with its four fixed signs, not a spaceship with alien creatures.
For more information and citations, see Did Moses Exist? The Myth of the Israelite Lawgiver.