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Guide for the Perplexed
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CHAPTER VI

THE sublime and great subject which Ezekiel by prophetic impulse began to teach us in the description of the Mercabah, is exactly the same which Isaiah taught us in general outlines, because he did not require all the detail. Isaiah says, “I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up, and his train filled the temple. Above it stood seraphims,” etc. (Isa. vi. 1 seq.). Our Sages have already stated all this clearly, and called our attention to it. For they say that the vision of Ezekiel is the same as that of Isaiah, and illustrate their view by the following simile: — Two men saw the king riding, the one a townsman, the other a countryman. The former, seeing that his neighbours know well how the king rides, simply tells them that he saw the king; but the villager, wishing to tell his friends things which they do not know, relates in detail how the king was riding, describes his followers, and the officers who execute his order and command. This remark is a most useful hint; it is contained in the following passage (Ḥagigah, 13 b); “Isaiah saw all that has been seen by Ezekiel; Isaiah is like a townsman that sees the king, Ezekiel like a countryman that sees the king.” These words can be explained in the manner which I have just mentioned, viz., the generation of Isaiah did not require the detailed description; his account, “I saw the Lord,” etc., sufficed. The generation of the Babylonian exile wanted to learn all the details. It is, however, possible that the author of this saying held Isaiah as more perfect than Ezekiel, so that the vision might have overawed Ezekiel and appeared fearful to him; but Isaiah was so familiar with it that he did not consider it necessary to communicate it to others as a new thing, especially as it was well known to the intelligent.

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