This is an addendum to my reflections on wings a few weeks ago.

Israel is sometimes conceived as a four-cornered land (Ezekiel 7:2), modeled after the four-cornered altar (Exodus 27:2; 38:2) or a four-cornered house (Job 1:19). Israelites are priests; their land is an altar where they make their daily, living sacrifices. Leaders form the corners of the land (Judges 20:2; 1 Samuel 14:38, where the word for “chief” is pinnah, “corner”). This is the source of the imagery of a king as a “chief cornerstone” (Psalm 118:22; Isaiah 19:13; 28:16).

In one passage, though, the corners are pictured as “wings”: Yahweh promises to raise up a banner and summon His people from the “four wings of the earth/land” (Isaiah 11:12). The earth is pictured as a winged creature, flying against the face of the firmament. This is an even better description of the land of Israel, which functions as a kind of firmament between heaven and earth. One always goes “up” to Israel, because it is a mountaintop, a winged land, a castle in the sky, closer to the Creator.

If the land is winged, so are its inhabitants. As I noted in the earlier post, every Israelite has a tassel at the four “wings” of his robe; he is a heavenly being. And Zechariah makes that explicit, predicting that one day ten men will take hold of the “wing” of every Jew, pleading to go with him (Zechariah 8:3). They hope that if they grab a Jew, they’ll fly to heaven.

More on: Bible - OT

Articles by Peter J. Leithart

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