One of my most frequent points of irritation in the whole UFOs and religion arena is the idea that there are UFOs (as in flying spaceships) in the Bible (this is basically an Old Testament / Hebrew Bible issue, so that’s my focus here). I want people to trust me when I say, “there aren’t any . . . as in zero.” I think I deserve the trust. Hey, I’m a biblical scholar with a PhD in Hebrew Bible (where all the so-called UFOs are flying around). I have two masters degrees (one in Hebrew Bible, another in the ancient history of Egypt and Canaan). I have taught biblical studies for fifteen years. Really . . . I know there are no space ships in the Bible. I’ve seen all your “examples” and know you’re wrong. But alas, people persist.
Review of Old Turf
Now, I’m not going to spend all the space on this post to cover ground over which I’ve already labored. Elijah’s chariot of fire is not a spaceship. There are no spaceships that use horses (2 Kings 2:11). Biblical writers knew what horses were and what they looked like (really). And the chariot had fire, something else biblical writers knew of quite well. (And the last time I checked, the internal combustion engine neither existed in biblical times, nor would it be sufficient for interstellar travel. If there are aliens, they know that just like we know it). Elijah also wasn’t describing a flying disk. This is where (pardon the pun) I’m going to land in this post … in a moment.
Moving to Ezekiel’s vision . . . that wasn’t a flying saucer either. Ancient Hebrew vocabulary has all the following words in it: “round”; “disk”; “circular”; “flat”; “metal(lic)”; “silver”; etc., and yet none of them are used in the description. If you can’t read Hebrew, use a Strong’s Concordance and its dictionary and check out that claim. The Hebrew words for the above English words aren’t used in Ezekiel. The only thing close is “wheels” but that word is plural and the wheels are on the ground (Ezek 1:15), just where the pictures of Ezekiel’s vision that we have would lead you to expect.
Yes, I said we had pictures, since we do. We have ancient iconography that corresponds with great precision to what Ezekiel described. And for that reason we know he didn’t see a space craft. Ezekiel is describing a throne (Ezek 1:26; see also Daniel 7:9-10 where the same fiery throne with wheels is described). Ezekiel’s cherubim throne uses stock iconography for royal thrones in Babylon (he was at the Chebar canal, which is in Babylon, when he had the vision; Ezek 1:1-3). Since the four faces of the cherubim correspond to the cardinal points of the Babylonian zodiac the vision is describing Yahweh enthroned above the earth – the symbolism being that he controls the destinies of all nations on earth. It makes sense to use Babylonian imagery to communicate this on two levels. First, it has the effect of “dissing” Marduk, the Babylonian god (he isn’t on the throne that is Babylonian in style . . . Yahweh is; he’s real divine king). Second, it serves to communicate the message that Yahweh is in control of the cosmos, not Marduk, despite the fact that Jerusalem was destroyed. That’s a message the captives needed. Lastly, the throne vision in Ezekiel is said to be bright or shiny, but you’d expect that with burning coals of fire (Ezek 1:4, 13) since fire illuminates.
Likewise, the basket with the metal lid in Zechariah 5:6-10 isn’t a UFO, either. It’s a basket (how’s that for profound). The Hebrew word is ephah, one of the most common, well-known words in the Hebrew vocabulary for . . . you guessed it . . . a basket. The writer knows what a basket looks like. He’s part of an agrarian society. It would be difficult to go through a day and NOT see a basket in that culture. And the basket isn’t in the air until two women with wings (note that they are not called angels and they are the ones flying – not the basket “UFO”) come along and lift it into the sky. Zechariah tells us that the vision represents the removal of wickedness (which is the “name” of the woman in the basket) from the holy land and the returned exiles. It has nothing to do with spaceships.
A New Exercise
In what remains of this post (and this is its point), I’m going to illustrate how a biblical writer could have described a flying saucer (and other types of UFOs we’re familiar with) had he ever seen one. It is a myth that the biblical writer would have been rendered incapable of words had he seen a flying craft. I’m going to show you that using words found in the vocabulary of the Hebrew Bible.
Let’s first make a list of words found in the Hebrew Bible that would have been readily available for the biblical writer to use had he seen a flying saucer, or a black triangle, a “rod” UFO, or one of those gumdrop UFOs for good measure. Here’s the list, in basic transliteration used by resources like Strong’s – and I’ll include Strong’s numbers (= Str) for people who don’t know Hebrew just so they can look the words up and verify that they’re used in the Hebrew Bible. While I’d like you to trust me, I don’t want to force that on you (unlike ancient astronaut pseudo-researchers, who habitually don’t cite sources or give you “chapter and verse” of the ancient texts they talk about). Here are the Hebrew words the biblical writer could have used (definitions are from the Dictionary of Biblical Languages with Semantic Domains: Old Testament):
1. “round” or “disk” or “circular” – There are over thirty words in the Hebrew Bible that describe something round or the shape of roundness. I’ll pick a few for our purposes that would have been especially useful for describing a UFO.
Hebrew: ‘agol – (Str 5696; circular, round, i.e., pertaining to a shape that is a circle, round and without corners; 1Ki 7:23, 31,35; 10:19; 2Ch 4:2); tselil – (Str 6742; round loaf, cake ball, i.e., a processed loaf of bread, with a focus on the shape as being round or disk-shaped, and so able to roll; Jdg 7:13); sohar – (Str 5470; roundness, i.e., the concept of being round or circular, as pertaining to the shape of an object; Ge 39:20,21, 22,23; 40:3, 5); sahar – (Str 5469; roundness, i.e., the concept of being round or circular, as pertaining to the shape of an object; Song Sol 7:3); ‘ugah (Str 5692; bread-cake, i.e., a round, flat bread baked (contrasted with an oven loaf) on hot stones and turned over to bake both sides; Ge 18:6; Ex 12:39; Nu 11:8; 1Ki 17:13; 19:6; Eze 4:12; Hos 7:8); shelet – (Str 7982; small round shield, i.e., a defensive weapon to stop weapons and blows, usually made of thick, oiled, leather; 2Sa 8:7; 2Ki 11:10; 1Ch 18:7; 2Ch 23:9; SS 4:4; Jer 51:11; Eze 27:11; note: in some contexts this can refer to ornamental shields made of other materials); metsiltayim – (Str 4700; cymbals, i.e., a pair of round, metal musical percussion instruments which are struck together to make a rhythmic sound (1Ch 13:8; 15:16, 19, 28; 16:5, 42; 25:1, 6; 2Ch 5:12, 13; 29:25; Ezr 3:10; Ne 12:27).
2. “metal(lic)” or “silver”
There are over 100 words in the Hebrew Bible associated with metals or metallurgy. Again, I’ll pick a few that would have been useful. Note that in Ezekiel 1, the “expanse” (raqia‘) is not said to be metallic. The word there is “crystal” to denote a shine. It is also not said to be round. It is a platform that supports the throne, under which are cherubim with *side” wheels – what you’d need for a throne (a chair; see the parallel in Dan 7:9-10) to be mobile. The related verb raqa‘ refers to the act of making something thin (not necessarily circular) by hammering. The verb has nothing to do with roundness (and neither does the noun raqia‘ – context has to give shape information, and that is absent in Ezekiel 1).
peladot – (Str 6393; steel iron, i.e., a metal more pliable than cast iron metal, which can be polished; Nah 2:3); matil – (Str 4300; rod, stick, i.e., a solid length of wood or metal of any diameter or length, used for various tasks; Job 40:18); chashmal – (Str 2830; shining substance: (kjv, nkjv, nrsv, njb, Tanakh) amber stone or (nab) electrum (gold/silver alloy): several others have been suggested; a bluish stone, or gold, or bronze, or some kind of in-lay work; Eze 1:4, 27; 8:2); keseph – (Str 3701; silver metal (Job 28:1), note: for niv text in Pr 26:23, see 3869; 2. LN 6.68-6.82 money, i.e., a silver piece as a unit of exchange; 2Sa 18:12; 2Ki 15:20); luach – (Str 3871; 1. LN 6.54-6.67 stone tablets, i.e., a stone surface for inscribing words with a chiseling tool (Ex 24:12) . . . 3. LN 6.188-6.196 metal plate, i.e., a metal surface used for ornamental carving for ornamental adornment of a building; 1Ki 7:36); re’i – (Str 7209; mirror, i.e., a flat piece of polished metal (possibly with an ornamental handle), which makes a reflection for face and hair care; Job 37:18); qalachat – (Str 7037; cooking pot, caldron, kettle, i.e., a large, assumedly metal, vessel for cooking or boiling meats or stews; 1Sa 2:14; Mic 3:3).
3. “bright” or “shining” or “burning”
There are over two dozen terms used of the quality of shininess or shining in the Hebrew Bible. Here are several.
chashmal – see entry above under #2; tsahal – (Str 6670; make shine, make glisten, i.e., cause light to reflect off a surface efficiently and so cause a shining appearance from that object; Ps 104:15); zahar – (Str 2096; brightness, shining, i.e., have an appearance of light, implying a beauty or splendor; Eze 8:2; Da 12:3).
4. Black (color)
shachor – (Str 7838; 1. LN 79.26-79.38 black, i.e., pertaining to the color black (Lev 13:31, 37; SS 1:5; 5:11; Zec 6:2, 6); chashak – (Str 2821; 1. LN 14.53-14.62 (qal) be dark, i.e., be in a state of little or no light, with an associative meaning of gloom or depressed feelings (Job 3:9; 18:6; Ecc 12:2, 3; Isa 5:30; 13:10+), note: for niv text in Eze 30:18, see 3124; (hif) darken (Ps 105:28; 139:12; Jer 13:16; Am 5:8; 8:9+); 2. LN 79.26-79.38 (qal) be black, i.e., be the color black, as an extension of darkness as the absence of light (Ex 10:15; La 4:8+).
5. Straight side or line
mesharim – (Str 4339; 1. LN 88.12-88.23 uprightness, i.e., what conforms to a standard (1Ch 29:17); 2. LN 88.12-88.23 fairness, equity, i.e., the concept of justice in relation to a standard (Ps 9:9[EB 8]); 3. LN 79.88-79.90 straightness, i.e., a linear direction that does not deviate nor is crooked (SS 7:10[EB 9]); 4. LN 79.84-79.87 levelness, i.e., a state of not having hills or depressions (Isa 26:7); yashar (Str 3477; 1. LN 79.88-79.90 straight, i.e., pertaining to not being crooked (Eze 1:7); 2. LN 79.84-79.87 level, i.e., pertaining to not being bumpy with elevations or depressions (Jer 31:9); yosher (Str 3476; 1. LN 88.12-88.23 uprightness, i.e., the quality of conforming to a standard (Dt 9:5; 1Ki 9:4; Job 33:3, 23; Ps 25:21; 119:7; Pr 14:2; Ecc 12:10+), note: Pr 8:21 cj; 2. LN 79.88-79.90 straightness, i.e., what is not crooked, or possibly a leveling or evenness of a path (Pr 2:13; 4:11+).
I hope you get the idea. Now, here’s how you’d describe the following:
1. Standard UFO – “Behold, I looked up at the heavens and saw a round (loaf, shield); its color was silver, and it had the appearance of shining silver (or shining amber) and was moving fast (or standing still, whatever).”
2. Triangle UFO – “Behold, I looked up at the heavens and saw a great thing having three sides, each of them straight. And the appearance of the thing was black, like night.”
3. A “rod” UFO – “Behold, I looked up at the heavens and saw a rod (Hebr: matil) whose appearance was silver. And behold the rod shined brightly.”
4. A “gumdrop” UFO – “Behold, I looked up at the heavens and saw a cooking pot (qalachat) made of silver, great and shining. And behold the cooking pot’s mouth was below its base (i.e., it was upside down, for the gumdrop effect).”
Honestly, folks, this is child’s play.
I can hardly wait for some “researcher” to steal these fake “Bible verses” and put them on a website somewhere about Bible UFOs. If you see that, let me know. I’ll be glad to post links here to that site so it comes up more easily in Google and we can expose the hack who did it.