Ezekiel’s chariot : a surprising vision of our four earthly pounds

Here the reader will find some of the measures of our earthly ponds and platform. The calculations given are the consequence of some premises I’m going to expose in this week blog article. Here I  will consider Ezekiel’s book in chapter one and his vision of the four wheels with smaller wheels in their midst (1:16). Moreover, I will give reasons for Cosmas Indicopleustis’ belief about the rectangular shape as the basic pattern of the earth.

Measuring our earth’s platform

You could be astonished when reading Hebrew 9:1  in the original Greek text, a passage where Paul describes the temple as αϒιoν κοσμικόν, a mundane holy place or a  cosmic sanctuary, i.e., a representation of our earthly cosmos. The Greek words cosmos and Ouranos indicate different entities:  cosmos is our earthly world,  Ouranos is the skies. So a cosmic sanctuary is a representation of our earthly abode, simply  “‘e’rets”, a word derived from an unused root probably meaning to be firm. This is also in harmony with the Vulgate that in 1Chronicles 16:30 translates:” Ipse enim fundavit orbem immobilem.”

Taking the measures of the ark as a  start point, you can succeed in measuring the earth.

According to the Scriptures, the ark itself was 111×66,6×66,6 centimeters. On this basis, first I’ll calculate the radius of the earth keeping in mind the following :

111 km is the measure given for every degree in latitude.

radius of the flat earth =111×180 = 19980 km. See also the article about Demlo numbers.

Now, I consider the platform of the earth as being a rectangle and I calculate its measures: I have to consider the radius of one earth pond as the fifth  part of a basic line containing  two different ponds that are separated one from the other by a distance equal to a radius, and this is in connection to the minor side of the platform.

19980×5=99900km  minor side of the platform of the earth

On the other hand, the major side will be obtained calculating the proportions. We  must remember that the sides of the ark are proportioned on a basis of 3 to 5 ( 1,5 and 2,5 cubits)

On these premises we’ll have the following data:

(99900:3)x5=166.500km   major side of the platform of the earth

Cosmas Indicopleustes, a sixth-century traveler who sailed to India

Cosmas Indicopleustes ( Κοσμᾶς Ἰνδικοπλεύστης – Kosmás Indikopléustis –  literally Cosmas who sailed to India) is an alternative name given to a Byzantine geographer to suggest the cosmic breath of his suggestions. He was a Christian  Duophysist Nestorian that in Antioch had been close to Theodorus of Mopsuestia’s (350-428)  circles.  Even if, in his experience as a merchant and a traveler, he possessed precise and detailed geographical knowledge, (probably he had personally visited the kingdom of Axum, Ethiopia, Eritrea, India, and Ceylon), he  wrote a “Christian Topography” showing an astonishing disposition of the earth quite similar  to Ezekiel’s vision of  God’s chariot with the four-double concentric wheels. In his written work he sketched some of the earliest and most intriguing ancient world maps.

A major feature of Cosmas’ Topographia was the assertion that the world is flat, and that the heavens form the shape of a box with a curved lid. Cosmas aimed to prove that the earth is in fact modeled on the pattern of the tabernacle described to Moses by God during the Exodus from Egypt.

Christian Topography

Evidently, he was convinced of ideas generally unbelievable for the modern reader, such as the hypothesis that the tent of the covenant could be taken as a model of the earth. In fact, he was firmly convinced that the ark was the chariot of God, as mentioned in 1 Chronicles 28:18 and a pattern not to be neglected.

The Jews had always held for sure the fact that the real, cosmic temple had come to the existence a long time earlier than Mose’s tabernacle or Salomon’s temple could even be imagined. This same idea was implicit in Paul’s statement in his letter to the Hebrews  9:1 where he refers to the temple as a mundane holy place. (Mundane or worldly is  in Greeκ  κοσμικων and in Latin mundane).

This same idea is expressed in the book of Wisdom when the writer, quoting Solomon’s prayer in front of all the people at the inauguration of the temple in Jerusalem, said to God: “ You told me to build a temple on your sacred mountain, an altar in Jerusalem, the city you chose as your home. It is a copy of that temple in heaven, which you prepared at the beginning”. Wisdom 9:8-10 Good News Translation (GNT)

Philo the Alexandrine shared  the same idea  when, in the first century, he stated: “The reason  for the existence of all the objects in the temple was to imitate and to represent  our cosmos” (Antiquitates Judaicae 111,7,7.)  And, in De Monarchia 11.2, he added that “the supreme and real God’s temple is the whole cosmos”.

(About the original meaning of temples you could refer to my article Temple and Time,  edited in the blog  earthmeasured.wordpress.com )     (November 2016)

When Ezekiel in vision saw the open sky and the wheels flat on the ground he certainly had a glimpse of a well defined spatial structure: the heavenly hemispheres leaning on the four ponds fitted inside the terrestrial cube. It was something similar to the shape of the temple he would later describe in his book ( chapter 40 and forward) and to the cube of the New Jerusalem of Revelation 21:16. According to the cabbalistic tradition that was Merkabah, a subject that for many of us is completely new, Rabbis and simple Jews desired to peer into the reality of God’s earthly creation. No man could ever catch a complete and general glimpse of the earth, but many believed that Ezekiel had had a faithful vision of the ensemble. (You can find much information about Merkabah surfing the web or, for instance,  in the Jewish Encyclopedia. You will discover, of course, that Merkabah, as Cabbala itself, has many different levels, values, and interpretations that are not considered here.)

In the ancient tradition, the square or the rectangle are patterns of the earth with its four cardinal points, the biblical “earth’s corners” of Revelation 7:1 and 20:8.

But now,  in order to make the subject well understood by the readers, I have to give some hints about the “Rotas” of the first chapter of the book of Ezekiel.

Ezechiel’s prophecy, chapter one, is also known as the prophecy of the chariot. As a matter of facts,  in Ezechiel’s book the word chariot  is not mentioned but to find  it you have to rely on 1Chronicles  28:18 where the Bible refers to  ” the representation of the chariot, namely the cherubs of gold for spreading their wings out and screening over the ark of the covenant “. So, as you can easily deduce, the ark has a close connection with the wheels of Ezekiel chapter 1.

Ezekiel’s prophecy: the vision of the wheels

Here, to make things easier, I add the complete text of the first chapter of Ezekiel’s book.

 1 Now it came to pass in the thirtieth year, in the fourth month, in the fifth day of the month, as I was among the captives by the river of Chebar, that the heavens  were opened, and I saw visions of God.
 In the fifth day of the month, which was the fifth year of king Jeiohakin’s captivity, 1 Now it came to pass in the thirtieth year, in the fourth month, in the fifth day of the month, as I was among the captives by the river of Chebar, that the heavens  were opened, and I saw visions of God. 1 Now it came to pass in the thirtieth year, in the fourth month, in the fifth day of the month, as I was among the captives by the river of Chebar, that the heavens  were opened, and I saw visions of God. 3 The word of the LORD came expressly unto Ezekiel the priest, the son of Buzi, in the land of the Chaldeans by the river Chebar; and the hand of the LORD was there upon him. 4 And I looked, and, behold, a whirlwind came out of the north, a great cloud, and a fire infolding itself, and a brightness was about it, and out of the midst thereof as the colour of amber, out of the midst of the fire. 5 Also out of the midst thereof came the likeness of four living creatures. And this was their appearance; they had the likeness of a man. 6 And every one had four faces, and every one had four wings. 7 And their feet were straight feet; and the sole of their feet was like the sole of a calf’s foot: and they sparkled like the colour of burnished brass. 8 And they had the hands of a man under their wings on their four sides; and they four had their faces and their wings. 9 Their wings were joined one to another; they turned not when they went; they went every one straight forward. 10 As for the likeness of their faces, they four had the face of a man, and the face of a lion, on the right side: and they four had the face of an ox on the left side; they four also had the face of an eagle. 11 Thus were their faces: and their wings were stretched upward; two wings of every one were joined one to another, and two covered their bodies. 12 And they went every one straight forward: whither the spirit was to go, they went; and they turned not when they went.13 As for the likeness of the living creatures appearance was like burning  coals of fire, and like the appearance of lamps: it went up and down among the  living creatures; and the fire was bright, and out of the fire went forth lightning. 14 And the living creatures ran and returned as the appearance of a flash of lightning. 15 Now as I beheld the living creatures, behold one wheel upon the earth by the living creatures, with his four faces. 16 The appearance of the wheels and their work was like unto the colour of a  beryl: and they four had one likeness: and their appearance and their work was as it were a wheel in the middle of a wheel17 When they went, they went upon their four sides: and they turned not when they went. 18 As for their rings, they were so high that they were dreadful; and their rings were full of eyes round about them four. 19 And when the living creatures went, the wheels went by them: and when the living creatures  were lifted up from the earth, the wheels were lifted up. 20 Whithersoever the spirit was to go, they went, thither was their spirit to go; and the wheels were lifted up over against them: for the spirit of the living creature was in the wheels. 21 When those went, these went; and when those stood, these stood; and when those were lifted up from the earth, the wheels were lifted up over against them: for the spirit of the living creature was in the wheels. 22 And the likeness of the firmament upon the heads of the living creature was as the colour of the terrible crystal, stretched forth over their heads above. 23 And under the firmament were their wings straight, the one toward the other: every one had two, which covered on this side, and every one had two, which covered on that side, their bodies. 24 And when they went, I heard the noise of their wings, like the noise of great waters, as the voice of the Almighty, the voice of speech, as the noise of an host: when they stood, they let down their wings. 25 And there was a voice from the firmament that was over their heads, when they stood, and had let down their wings. 26 And above the firmament that was over their heads was the likeness of a throne, as the appearance of a sapphire stone: and upon the likeness of the throne was the likeness as the appearance of a man above upon it. 27 And I saw as the colour of amber as the appearance of fire round about within it, from the appearance of his loins even upward, and from the appearance of his loins even downward, I saw as it were the appearance of fire, and it had brightness round about. 28 As the appearance of the bow that is in the cloud in the day of rain, so was the appearance of the brightness round about. This 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 a voice of one that spake.    (king’s James Version)

A representation of Ezekiel’s chariot.

Now many readers could ask: what do the wheels of the vision represent?  Could they be a representation of the earth? Why was Merkabah such a mysterious and dangerous subject? Answers would be very personal,  so I prefer to reconnect again to my subject, the wheels of the prophecy that should be pictured as circles set flat on the ground, each one with a living creature nearby. Considering the four wheels, they were full of eyes, that are a special characteristic of all living creatures, human and animal…

Then Ezechiel notes: “Something as the appearance of torches was moving back and forth…” that could be an image of the tracks of the sun and moon orbiting over the extension of each of the four wheels. They could be intended as the smaller wheels rotating inside the bigger ones: “a wheel was in the middle of a wheel”, maybe something like this in the picture:

Anyway, Ezekiel, as Cosmas later in the sixth century C.E., presented the platform of the earth as a frameset with four similar flat wheels: “and the four of them had one likeness”(Ezechiel 1:16)  And this is something not to be forgotten.

Here above, I’ll try to show you a picture of the two wheels making up each earthly pond,  one in the midst of the other.

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