Verse 8. "The four beasts had each of them six wings" - I have already observed, in the preface to this book, that the phraseology is rabbinical; I might have added, and the imagery also. We have almost a counterpart of this description in Pirkey Elieser. chap. 4. I shall give the substance of this from Schoettgen. "Four troops of ministering angels praise the holy blessed God: the first is Michael, at the right hand; the next is Gabriel, at the left; the third is Uriel, before; and the fourth is Raphael, behind him.
The shechinah of the holy, blessed God is in the midst, and he himself sits upon a throne high and elevated, hanging in the air; and his magnificence is as amber lm¨j , (chashmal,) in the midst of the fire, Ezek. i. 4, On his head is placed a crown and a diadem, with the incommunicable name ( hwhy Yehovah) inscribed on the front of it. His eyes go throughout the whole earth; a part of them is fire, and a part of them hail. At his right hand stands Life, and at his left hand Death; and he has a fiery scepter in his hand. Before him is the veil spread, that veil which is between the temple and the holy of holies; and seven angels minister before him within that veil: the veil and his footstool are like fire and lightning; and under the throne of glory there is a shining like fire and sapphire, and about his throne are justice and judgment.
"The place of the throne are the seven clouds of glory; and the chariot wheels, and the cherub, and the living creatures which give glory before his face. The throne is in similitude like sapphire; and at the four feet of it are four living creatures, each of which has four faces and four wings. When God speaks from the east, then it is from between the two cherubim with the face of a MAN; when he speaks from the south, then it is from between the two cherubim with the face of a LION; when from the west, then it is from between the two cherubim with the face of an OX; and when from the north, then it is from between the two cherubim with the face of an EAGLE.
"And the living creatures stand before the throne of glory; and they stand in fear, in trembling, in horror, and in great agitation; and from this agitation a stream of fire flows before them. Of the two seraphim one stands at the right hand of the holy blessed God, and one stands at the left; and each has six wings: with two they cover their face lest they should see the face of the shechina; with two they cover their feet lest they should find out the footstool of the shechinah; and with two they fly, and sanctify his great name. And they answer each other, saying Holy, holy, holy, Lord God of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory. And the living creatures stand near his glory, yet they do not know the place of his glory; but wheresoever his glory is, they cry out and say, Blessed be the glory of the Lord in his place." In Shemoth Rabba, sec. 23, fol. 122, 4, Rabbi Abin says: "There are four which have principality in this world: among intellectual creatures, MAN; among birds, the EAGLE; among cattle, the OX; and among wild beasts, the LION: each of these has a kingdom and a certain magnificence, and they are placed under the throne of glory, Ezek. i. 10, to show that no creature is to exalt itself in this world, and that the kingdom of God is over all." These creatures may be considered the representatives of the whole creation.
Verse 10. "Cast their crowns before the throne" - Acknowledge the infinite supremacy of God, and that they have derived their being and their blessings from him alone. This is an allusion to the custom of prostrations in the east, and to the homage of petty kings acknowledging the supremacy of the emperor.
Verse 11. "Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive" - Thus all creation acknowledges the supremacy of God; and we learn from this song that he made all things for his pleasure; and through the same motive he preserves.
Hence it is most evident, that he hateth nothing that he has made, and could have made no intelligent creature with the design to make it eternally miserable. It is strange that a contrary supposition has ever entered into the heart of man; and it is high time that the benevolent nature of the Supreme God should be fully vindicated from aspersions of this kind.