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Ezekiel 1:14:

וְהַחַיּ֖וֹת רָצ֣וֹא וָשׁ֑וֹב כְּמַרְאֵ֖ה הַבָּזָֽק׃

And the living creatures ran and returned as the appearance of a flash of lightning. (JPS translation)

The “living creatures” (חַיּוֹת) here are a category of angel that Ezekiel sees in this vision.

“As a flash of lightening” is the translation of כְּמַרְאֵ֖ה הַבָּזָֽק and follows Targum and Radak. Rashi, however, comments:

Our Sages explained “ran and returned” like the flame of the furnace that constantly emerges from the mouth of the furnace and quickly returns inside it. So too when [the “living creatures”] raise their heads through the firmament suspended above them… they are shocked backward because of the Divine Presence (שכינה) above the firmament, and quickly retract their heads. “Like the appearance

of הַבָּזָֽק,” in the heathen tongue (French) דלאטנציל”א.

That last word that Rashi offers is rather straightforward. Something like “dilatancile,” it is clearly the Old French version of the English word “dilitancy” or the modern French dilatation meaning dilating, spreading or expanding. Indeed, in what appear to be additional comments inserted into Rashi’s by a later editor (they are preceded by the word תוספת, “addendum”), the Hebrew word פיזור (scattering, spreading) is used, and several instances of this use of the בזק root in early rabbinic sources are cited.

So according to Rashi, it seems the verse would translate as follows:

And the living creatures ran and returned as the appearance of the fire that emerges outward [from a furnace].


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