Fifth Vision: The Flying Scroll. 1Then I raised my eyes again and saw a flying scroll. 2He asked me, “What do you see?” I answered, “I see a flying scroll, twenty cubits long and ten cubits wide.”* a 3Then he said to me: “This is the curse which is to go forth over the whole land. According to it, every thief and every perjurer* will be expelled. 4I will send it forth—oracle of the LORD of hosts—so that it will come to the house of the thief, and into the house of the one who swears falsely by my name.b It shall lodge within each house, consuming it, timber and stones.”
Sixth Vision: The Basket of Wickedness. 5Then the angel who spoke with me came forward and said to me, “Raise your eyes and look. What is this that comes forth?” 6I said, “What is it?” And he answered, “This is the basket* that is coming.” And he said, “This is their guilt in all the land.” 7Then a leaden cover was lifted, and there was a woman sitting inside the basket.* 8He said, “This is Wickedness,” and he thrust her inside the basket, pushing the leaden weight into the opening.
9Then I raised my eyes and saw two women coming forth with wind under their wings*—they had wings like the wings of a stork—and they lifted the basket into the air. 10I said to the angel who spoke with me, “Where are they taking the basket?” 11He replied, “To build a temple for it in the land of Shinar.* When the temple is constructed, they will set it there on its base.”
* [5:2] Twenty cubits long and ten cubits wide: ca. thirty feet by fifteen feet. These dimensions may represent the ratio of height to width in the exposed portion of a scroll being opened for liturgical reading; at the same time it may symbolize the approach to God’s presence since the entryway to the Temple has the same measurements (1 Kgs 6:3). The scroll itself may represent God’s covenant with the people, insofar as it contains curses against those who break the law.
* [5:7] Woman sitting inside the basket: figure representing wickedness or foreign idolatry being transported back to Babylonia (vv. 1–11). Returning exiles were apparently worshiping deities they had learned to accept in Babylonia, and that “wickedness” (v. 8) must be removed.
* [5:9] Two women…wings: composite beings, part human and part animal, similar to the cherubim flanking the holy ark (Ex 25:18–22; 1 Kgs 6:23–28; Ez 10:18–22). Such creatures accompany foreign deities as here, or the biblical God.