Tuesday, February 12, 2008
UFOs in the Bible: Ezekiel's Wheel, 593 BC
Of all the UFO accounts in the Bible, the one that mentioned most often is Ezekiel's Wheel. Many people claim that Ezekiel clearly describes a UFO in the following passage:
Ezekiel 1:16 (NIV)
This was the appearance and structure of the wheels: They sparkled like chrysolite, and all four looked alike. Each appeared to be made like a wheel intersecting a wheel.
So I thought about this. What is the craft shown above? It still seems rather mystical looking, and even if it is a spacecraft, it really doesn't make the story told in the book of Ezekiel any clearer. The rest of his narrative still seems pretty confusing to me.
While I was wondering about all of this, I came upon a book written by NASA engineer Josef F. Blumrich entitled The Spaceships of Ezekiel. This book concludes that the passage shown above wasn't the whole story. Blumrich agrees that the "wheel within a wheel" was extraterrestrial, but he goes one step further and claims that it only describes a small part of the craft. According to Blumrich, the whole chapter was a detailed description of an encounter with an UFO.
Even the story behind the book is very interesting. Blumrich notes that he began researching the topic in response to Erich von Daniken's book Chariots of the Gods. In the forward to his book, Blumrich states that he "began to read von Daniken with the condescending attitude of someone who knows beforehand that the conclusions presented can by no means be correct." In otherwords, he thought von Daniken was full of it and was going to set out to prove it scientifically.
What he found, after an extensive amount of research from an engineering point of view, was just the opposite. He went from an extreme skeptic to becoming convinced that the book of Ezekiel was a real accurate and detailed account of an encounter with extraterrestrial visitors. Very interesting coming from a person who is not a religious zealot by any means and is about as far as you can get from a gullible person who might be prone to jump to conclusions.
Since Blumrich has already done an outstanding job in analyzing the whole book of Ezekiel, I'm not going to reinvent the wheel by doing that here. But so you can see what I'm referring to, I will post a passage by passage analysis of Ezekiel chapter one that is based on the work of Blumrich. The text shown below isn't directly from Blumrich's book (which contains much, much more detail than I could ever present here) but is instead a capsulization of Blumrich's conclusions as presented in another very interesting book entitled Extraterrestrials in Biblical Prophesy by G. Cope Schellhorn, pages 106-108:
Ezekiel 1:4 (NIV)
I looked, and I saw a windstorm coming out of the north--an immense cloud with flashing lightning and surrounded by brilliant light. The center of the fire looked like glowing metal
The spacecraft begins at some distance from the prophet in its initial descent. Vapour cloud is from cooling preliminary to firing of rocket engine. Rocket engine is then fired.
Ezekiel 1:5 (NIV)
and in the fire was what looked like four living creatures. In appearance their form was that of a man
Looking upward, the prophet sees four shapes surrounded by fire and vapour that look alive. These are helicopter-like bodies deployed before landing.
Ezekiel 1:6 (NIV)
but each of them had four faces and four wings.
The prophet is now able to see more detail because the craft is at low altitude. He sees the four blades of the rotors and the fairing housings above the rotors that give the appearance of faces.
Ezekiel 1:7 (NIV)
Their legs were straight; their feet were like those of a calf and gleamed like burnished bronze.
This is a description of the landing legs. The legs have shock absorbers and round footpads.
Ezekiel 1:8 (NIV)
Under their wings on their four sides they had the hands of a man. All four of them had faces and wings,
This refers to remote-controlled mechanical arms hanging along side the cylindrical helicopter bodies.
Ezekiel 1:9 (NIV)
and their wings touched one another. Each one went straight ahead; they did not turn as they moved.
A reference to the helicopter blades protruding outward is made.
Ezekiel 1:10 (NIV)
Their faces looked like this: Each of the four had the face of a man, and on the right side each had the face of a lion, and on the left the face of an ox; each also had the face of an eagle.
The fairing surfaces, which protect the gears and other control devices above the rotors, look to the prophet like faces. The fairings are irregular in shape with some raised and some cut out areas, all of which lends itself to an awe-struck interpretation on the prophet's part. By way of example, Blumrich shows photos of Gemini and Apollo capsules that at certain angles look like monsters. Because like faces face in like directions, we see that the rotors are synchronized at rest position.
Ezekiel 1:11 (NIV)
Such were their faces. Their wings were spread out upward; each had two wings, one touching the wing of another creature on either side, and two wings covering its body.
The first part refers to the rotor blades being divided. The suggestion is that there is a kind of gap in the control mechanism or fairing. The last part of the verse refers to the rotor blades folded in an up and down position.
Ezekiel 1:12 (NIV)
Each one went straight ahead. Wherever the spirit would go, they would go, without turning as they went.
This refers to the landing leg assembly and the retractable wheels as part of each leg assembly. Ezekiel doesn't see the wheels until they are actually deployed in verse fifteen. Verses nine, twelve and fifteen are interrelated.
Ezekiel 1:13 (NIV)
The appearance of the living creatures was like burning coals of fire or like torches. Fire moved back and forth among the creatures; it was bright, and lightning flashed out of it.
Ezekiel is referring to the flowing reactor radiator and the bursts from the control rockets. The lightning effect comes from what would seem like leaping random fire but in fact is controlled bursts from the various control rockets for stabilization purposes.
Ezekiel 1:14 (NIV)
The creatures sped back and forth like flashes of lightning.
The spacecraft hovers and moves in various directions until a suitable landing site is found.
Ezekiel 1:15 (NIV)
As I looked at the living creatures, I saw a wheel on the ground beside each creature with its four faces.
The wheels are deployed. They appear at the very moment they become necessary.
Ezekiel 1:16-21 (NIV)
This was the appearance and structure of the wheels: They sparkled like chrysolite, and all four looked alike. Each appeared to be made like a wheel intersecting a wheel. As they moved, they would go in any one of the four directions the creatures faced; the wheels did not turn about as the creatures went. Their rims were high and awesome, and all four rims were full of eyes all around. When the living creatures moved, the wheels beside them moved; and when the living creatures rose from the ground, the wheels also rose. Wherever the spirit would go, they would go, and the wheels would rise along with them, because the spirit of the living creatures was in the wheels. When the creatures moved, they also moved; when the creatures stood still, they also stood still; and when the creatures rose from the ground, the wheels rose along with them, because the spirit of the living creatures was in the wheels.
The greenish-bluish color of the wheels suggests a protective film or coating. A further description of advanced reversible wheels is given. Ezekiel is confused - looks to him like a wheel within a wheel. These wheels look like they are obeying orders. He has had experience with wheels but these are puzzling. Thus he gives much time to their description. The craft rolls on the ground, probably in a maneuver to find the most suitable site.
Ezekiel 1:22 (NIV)
Spread out above the heads of the living creatures was what looked like an expanse, sparkling like ice, and awesome.
Here is a description of the main body of the craft. We get its basic shape, spreading out like a "firmament." The surface of the main body is metallic, shining, bright.
Ezekiel 1:23 (NIV)
Under the expanse their wings were stretched out one toward the other, and each had two wings covering its body.
We are given additional information concerning the position of the helicopter-like appendages relative to the main body. Rotor blades are at rest.
Ezekiel 1:24-25 (NIV)
When the creatures moved, I heard the sound of their wings, like the roar of rushing waters, like the voice of the Almighty, like the tumult of an army. When they stood still, they lowered their wings. Then there came a voice from above the expanse over their heads as they stood with lowered wings.
Blumrich feels these verses are out of order. They describe operating rotor blade motors and the resultant sound effects.
Ezekiel 1:26 (NIV)
Above the expanse over their heads was what looked like a throne of sapphire, and high above on the throne was a figure like that of a man.
The prophet sees the command module shaped and colored like a cabachon-cut sapphire. Seated in the pilot's seat is a man.
Ezekiel 1:27 (NIV)
I saw that from what appeared to be his waist up he looked like glowing metal, as if full of fire, and that from there down he looked like fire; and brilliant light surrounded him.
The prophet describes the light effects of the commander's flight suit which, in Blumrich's opinion, are reminiscent of the light effects caused by the reflecting surfaces of certain insulation materials used in the Apollo lunar module. (See Rev 1:12-15 and Dan 10:6) It might be enlightening here to mention the light effects, especially the golden glow effect, described by some present-day witnesses to UFO close encounters, people who have been in near proximity to UFO crew members. A classic example of such an effect would be the Fatima incident earlier in the century. An interesting explanation of this effect is offered by an extraterrestrial in Charles Silva's "Date With The Gods."
Ezekiel 1:28 (NIV)
Like the appearance of a rainbow in the clouds on a rainy day, so was the radiance around him. This was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the LORD. When I saw it, I fell facedown, and I heard the voice of one speaking.
Here are the optical light effects of the translucent cabachon-shaped command module sitting atop the main body of the spacecraft. Sunlight hitting the translucent surface and reflecting off other surfaces inside the module causes a rainbow light effect. (See Enoch 14:9-22 and Rev 4:3) Blumrich emphasizes that the brightness was "round about him." It did not emanate from "him." Him, we should carefully note, refers to Ezekiel's initial mistake of identity - confusing the spacecraft with God himself.
Blumrich goes on to provide similar observations for the entire book of Ezekiel. He even concludes that Ezekiel went aboard the craft and interacted with the commander of the vehicle a number of times. If you'd like to explore the topic further, I'd definitely recommend finding Blumrich's book so you can read all his conclusions firsthand.
So was Ezekiel's account really his way of telling a detailed story about an encounter with extraterrestrials? Were these beings sent by God to deliver a message to Ezekiel?
Interesting but controversial questions. I'll let you decide for yourself, but I sure haven't heard any other explanations of Ezekiel's experiences that sound as realistic as this.