Meaning of Ezekiel's Wheel within Wheel

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Question: What is the meaning of Ezekiel's wheel within a wheel vision?

Answer: There are only two Old Testament scriptures that directly reference this strange heavenly vision of a "wheel within a wheel" observed by the prophet Ezekiel.

The appearance of the wheels and their workmanship was the color of beryl, and the four of them had the same likeness. And their appearance and their workmanship was like a wheel inside of a wheel . . .

And I looked, and behold, the four wheels were beside the cherubim . . . And their appearance was as one, the four of them, as if the wheel were in the midst of the wheel (Ezekiel 1:16, 10:9 - 10, HBFV).

What exactly are cherubim?
Why should we not eat Ezekiel's bread?
Whose dreams are found in Scripture?

Of the many fascinating Biblical descriptions of heavenly things in the prophet's visions, delineated in chapters 1 and 10, is by far the most stunning and complex. The description itself is hard enough for us to understand since there is nothing similar to it in the Bible. We are also not told what to compare these descriptions in the prophet's visions to so that we may understand them.

Ezekiel had to describe his incredible and foreign to his experience visions using the Hebrew language.

The Vision of Ezekiel
The Vision of Ezekiel
Bury Bible, c. 1135

The difficulty of understanding his writings (or any others) is that the translation of the texts from Hebrew to English is sometimes not easy nor perfect. Since there is no certain and crystal clear understanding of this subject simply by reading the text, even after consulting several Bible commentaries we can only come to an imperfect, general understanding. The Apostle Paul stated that there are many things that, as humans, we can only partly understand (1Corinthians 13:12).

Some commentaries do try to describe Ezekiel's fantastic wheel vision. The Abingdon Bible Commentary states the following.

"The description is full of the splendor of flashing light, so brilliant that the details are minutely revealed, but so dazzling that they are not clearly seen . . . Textual corruption, which do not seriously affect the general interpretation, have aggravated the obscurity in some points of detail"

Next to each Cherub one wheel was place next to another one. A few Bible commentaries state that the wheels traversed each other (one inside another). Like in a cross, they allowed the spirits to immediately go in any of four directions where they were told to go (Ezekiel 10:16 - 17).

In regard to how each wheel was engineered, our limited understanding makes its almost impossible to comprehend how such things would be made supernaturally. The JFB Commentary states that ". . . each wheel was composed of two circles cutting one another at right angles."

There are two more wheel facets that are described. One facet is the "rings were full of eyes" (Ezekiel 1:18). Since eyes are for seeing, and man is made in the likeness of God (Genesis 1:26), we can safely assume that they are meant for the same. The great number of eyes on the rings may symbolize how great is God's awareness and direction of events.

The second facet was dreadful and had high rings. It is not clear whether, in regard to its shape, it means the ring depth or the large spoke size. You should be aware that some commentaries indulge in various allusions on the meaning of Ezekiel's wheel within a wheel that is merely speculative. We ought to be satisfied with what God allows us to comprehend regarding this vision and not add to it.

Additional Study Materials
Who are the minor prophets?
What do numbers mean in Scripture?
How is number four related to this vision?
Why did Satan attack God's throne?

Abingdon Bible Commentary
Holy Bible, a Faithful Version
JFB Commentary

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