Myths of Babylonia and Assyria
Page: 180In one of the other symbols in which appears a feather-robed archer, it is significant to find that the arrow he is about to discharge has a head shaped like a trident; it is evidently a lightning symbol.
When Ezekiel prophesied to the Israelitish captives at Tel-abib, "by the river of Chebar" in Chaldea (Kheber, near Nippur), he appears to have utilized Assyrian symbolism. Probably he came into contact in Babylonia with fugitive priests from Assyrian cities.
This great prophet makes interesting references to "four living creatures", with "four faces"--the face of a man, the face of a lion, the face of an ox, and the face of an eagle; "they had the hands of a man under their wings, ... their wings were joined one to another; ... their wings were stretched upward: two wings of every one were joined one to another.... Their appearance was like burning coals of fire and like the appearance of lamps.... The living creatures ran and returned as the appearance of a flash of lightning."
Elsewhere, referring to the sisters, Aholah and Aholibah, who had been in Egypt and had adopted unmoral ways of life Ezekiel tells that when Aholibah "doted upon the Assyrians" she "saw men pourtrayed upon the wall, the images of the Chaldeans pourtrayed with vermilion, girded with girdles upon their loins". Traces of the red colour on the walls of Assyrian temples and palaces have been observed by excavators. The winged gods "like burning coals" were probably painted in vermilion.
Ezekiel makes reference to "ring" and "wheel" symbols. In his vision he saw "one wheel upon the earth by the living creatures, with his four faces. The appearance of the wheels and their work was like unto the colour of beryl; and they four had one likeness; and their appearance and their work was as it were a wheel in the middle of a wheel.... As for their rings, they were so high that they were dreadful; and their rings were full of eyes round about them four. 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. 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.... And the likeness of the firmament upon the heads of the living creature was as the colour of terrible crystal, stretched forth over their heads above.... 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...."
Another description of the cherubs states: "Their whole body, and their backs, and their hands, and their wings, and the wheels, were full of eyes (? stars) round about, even the wheels that they four had. As for the wheels, it was cried unto them in my hearing, O wheel!" --or, according to a marginal rendering, "they were called in my hearing, wheel, or Gilgal," i.e. move round.... "And the cherubims were lifted up."