An interesting phrase occurs in Ezekiel 28:14:

You were an anointed guardian cherub. I placed you; you were on the holy mountain of God; in the midst of the stones of fire you walked.

and again in verse 16:

I destroyed you, O guardian cherub, from amidst the stones of fire.

What does this phrase "stones of fire" mean? Are there any parallel passages or outside sources that shed light on it? In what way is it associated with the holy mountain of God?

  • Ex 28:9,10 The names of the children of Israel were written on two stones of onyx, a lava rock. The path taken through the twelve stones on the breast plate (representing the 12 tribes), if followed in the order of Ez, produces a meandering path. He walked among the children of Israel, and was destroyed from among them.
    – Bob Jones
    Jul 27, 2018 at 9:48
  • The three tribes in each row of the breast plate represent the four voices of God as Priest, Prophet, Judge, and King. The third row is not mentioned in Ez, so the prophecy predicts the end of judgment,
    – Bob Jones
    Jul 27, 2018 at 9:58

3 Answers 3


Ezekiel 28:14 in the Masoretic text and the Allepo Codex are identical.

The Cambridge New English Bible (1970) translates the verse as "I set you with a towering cherub as guardian; you were on God's holy hill and you walked proudly among stones that flashed with fire" and in 16, "stones that flashed like fire".

A. S. Hartom's Hebrew commentary (published 1953) of Umberto Cassuto's Masoretic text translates the literal Hebrew "stones of fire" as "sparkling stones" (in modern Hebrew), that is, cut gemstones, a continuation of the imagery from the previous verse.

The unattributed translation of 28:14 in the OP is overall much closer to the original Hebrew text than the translation in the Cambridge New English Bible, however it's "stones of fire" is probably too literal a translation and gives the impression of a proper name that would have been known to the contemporary reader, which I believe it is not. This might be a simple literal translation in a case where the translator was at a loss.

The imagery of the anointed cherub would be familiar to the contemporary reader as the gold plated cherubs in the holy of holies of the Temple in Jerusalem whose wings over arched the ark of the covenant. "Over arched" might be a better translation than the "guardian" of the OP translation. The "holy mountain of God" is also a contemporary term for the hill above the city of David where the Temple once was. The only Temple imagery that includes sparkling stones is the image of the Urim and Tumim breastplate worn by the high priest that includes many of the stones mentioned in verse 13. The Urim and Tumim had twelve stones representing the twelve tribes and was used to make inquiries of the divine will. The stones were said to flash with a fiery light in accordance with the answer to a question. This image is supported by the first word of verse 15, "tamim" (innocent or without blemish), an oronym of "thumim" based on the same root, which though not used in 14, might be being suggested by the imagery.

Yehoshua Brand in Ceramics in Talmudic Literature claims that the "stones of fire" in Ezekiel 28 is one of the OT names for glass and alludes to the immensely lucrative Phoenician glass industry in Tyre. The imagery in 14 is a continuation of the imagery of precious stones from 13. Other names for glass or the glass industry identified by Brand are:

  1. Deuteronomy 33:16 "the hidden wealth of the sand"
  2. Ezekiel 40:16 "windows"
  3. Joshua 11:8 "Misrephoth"
  4. Isaiah 64:1 "water"
  5. Isaiah 54:12 "gates of garnet [or firestone]"
  6. Proverbs 20:15 Hebrew word following "coral" or "pearls" not in English trnalstions
  7. Psalms 37:20
  8. Zakaraiah 14:6
  9. Jeremiah 25:34
  10. Lamentations 4:1
  11. Exodus 1:14 "hard work"
  12. Psalms 81:7

[Translation of references not completed - ER]

The Temple imagery in 28:14 could be allusion to parallel images in Tyre; the anointed alluding to the olive oil industry of the area, the unassailable island position of Tyre being like the guardian chrubim, the shrine of Al Mina being likened to the mountain of God, and the glassworks parallel to the Urim and Thumim.

If this interpretation is correct, then the prophecy in 28:12-19 is an example of the principle of "measure for measure" (mida k'neged mida). As the rulers of Tyre gloated in the downfall of the beautiful sanctuary in Jerusalem (26:2), so their beautiful commercial sanctuary on Tyre will be destroyed.

  • So in other words, he's using sanctuary terminology to describe the person being cast from the presence of God?
    – Kazark
    May 12, 2012 at 19:52
  • Edited answer to address comment May 12, 2012 at 20:59

The stones of fire refer literally to the tablets of the law and figuratively to the law itself:

De 5:22 These words the LORD spake unto all your assembly in the mount out of the midst of the fire, of the cloud, and of the thick darkness, with a great voice: and he added no more. And he wrote them in two tables of stone, and delivered them unto me.

De 9:10 And the LORD delivered unto me two tables of stone written with the finger of God; and on them was written according to all the words, which the LORD spake with you in the mount out of the midst of the fire in the day of the assembly.

Fire represents the Holiness of God which has two aspects, it purifies or destroys. The law has the same two aspects, though we are condemned by it, we can also renew our minds by the washing of the word.

An interesting illustration is that of an ancient altar to the Lord. The altar was built with natural stones, not hewn, because the law was given by God, we do not worship God with man-made laws (righteousness). The wood is placed on the stones just as the cross was built upon the law/righteousness of God. Then the sacrifice is placed upon the wood as Christ was placed upon the cross. The sacrifice is fully consumed by the fire even as Christ was fully consumed with obedience to the Father, even unto death.

  • 2
    +1 for the connection of fire with the holiness of God. However given the context of this passage I'm not sure that it is appropriate to interpret the stones as the law.
    – Kazark
    May 12, 2012 at 19:32
  • How does one know they have a proper context if they don't know the meaning of what is said? Holiness/law/judgement are all aspects of the same thing. So just try 'holiness' instead of 'law'.
    – Bob Jones
    May 12, 2012 at 19:47
  • To whom does the passage apply? Who was in Eden? Adam, Eve, God, and the serpent. In what form did God walk around in the garden with Adam? Theophany? I don't think anyone proposes that it applies to Adam, or Eve. Literally it applies to a king, yet he was not in Eden. We are stuck believing that it is figurative. Tyre means 'Rock' and Jesus says that he is the rock. So if someone were to claim that it applies to Satan, it seems there is a large burden of proof to overcome all the allusions to Christ.
    – Bob Jones
    May 12, 2012 at 19:51

The parallel passage and outside source can be referenced from Jesus and Abrahamic religion. In context it appears that the stones are creatures or beings. Using the metaphor of God's righteousness being like fire it may be that stones of fire are creatures of unrelenting righteousness.

Parallel passage:

"I tell you," he replied, "if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out." Luke 19:40

Outside Source:

"But if you do not - and you will never be able to - then fear the Fire, whose fuel is men and stones, prepared for the disbelievers." Surah 2:24

God said to Ezekiel:

I will make your forehead like the hardest stone, harder than flint.

and again to Israel:

I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh

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