Eze 40:1-49. The Remaining
Chapters, the Fortieth through Forty-eighth, Give an Ideal Picture of
the Restored Jewish Temple.
The arrangements as to the land and the temple are,
in many particulars, different from those subsisting before the
captivity. There are things in it so improbable physically as to
preclude a purely literal interpretation. The general truth
seems to hold good that, as Israel served the nations for his rejection
of Messiah, so shall they serve him in the person of Messiah, when he
shall acknowledge Messiah (Isa 60:12; Zec 14:17-19; compare Ps 72:11). The ideal temple exhibits, under Old
Testament forms (used as being those then familiar to the men whom
Ezekiel, a priest himself, and one who delighted in sacrificial images,
addresses), not the precise literal outline, but the essential
character of the worship of Messiah as it shall be when He shall
exercise sway in Jerusalem among His own people, the Jews, and thence
to the ends of the earth. The very fact that the whole is a vision
40:2), not an oral
face-to-face communication such as that granted to Moses (Nu 12:6-8), implies that the directions are not to
be understood so precisely literally as those given to the Jewish
lawgiver. The description involves things which, taken literally,
almost involve natural impossibilities. The square of the temple, in
42:20, is six times as large
as the circuit of the wall enclosing the old temple, and larger than
all the earthly Jerusalem. Ezekiel gives three and a half miles and one
hundred forty yards to his temple square. The boundaries of the ancient
city were about two and a half miles. Again, the city in Ezekiel has an
area between three or four thousand square miles, including the holy
ground set apart for the prince, priests, and Levites. This is nearly
as large as the whole of Judea west of the Jordan. As Zion lay in the
center of the ideal city, the one-half of the sacred portion extended
to nearly thirty miles south of Jerusalem, that is, covered nearly the
whole southern territory, which reached only to the Dead Sea (Eze 47:19), and yet five tribes were to have
their inheritance on that side of Jerusalem, beyond the sacred
portion (Eze 48:23-28). Where was land to be found for them
there? A breadth of but four or five miles apiece would be left. As the
boundaries of the land are given the same as under Moses, these
incongruities cannot be explained away by supposing physical changes
about to be effected in the land such as will meet the difficulties of
the purely literal interpretation. The distribution of the land is in
equal portions among the twelve tribes, without respect to their
relative numbers, and the parallel sections running from east to west.
There is a difficulty also in the supposed separate existence of the
twelve tribes, such separate tribeships no longer existing, and it
being hard to imagine how they could be restored as distinct tribes,
mingled as they now are. So the stream that issued from the east
threshold of the temple and flowed into the Dead Sea, in the rapidity
of its increase and the quality of its waters, is unlike anything ever
known in Judea or elsewhere in the world. Lastly, the catholicity of
the Christian dispensation, and the spirituality of its worship, seem
incompatible with a return to the local narrowness and "beggarly
elements" of the Jewish ritual and carnal ordinances, disannulled
"because of the unprofitableness thereof" [Fairbairn], (Ga 4:3, 9; 5:1; Heb
9:10; 10:18). "A temple with
sacrifices now would be a denial of the all-sufficiency of the
sacrifice of Christ. He who sacrificed before confessed the Messiah. He
who should sacrifice now would solemnly deny Him" [Douglas]. These difficulties, however, may be all
seeming, not real. Faith accepts God's Word as it is, waits for
the event, sure that it will clear up all such difficulties. Perhaps,
as some think, the beau ideal of a sacred commonwealth is given
according to the then existing pattern of temple services, which would
be the imagery most familiar to the prophet and his hearers at the
time. The minute particularizing of details is in accordance with
Ezekiel's style, even in describing purely ideal scenes. The old temple
embodied in visible forms and rites spiritual truths affecting the
people even when absent from it. So this ideal temple is made in the
absence of the outward temple to serve by description the same purpose
of symbolical instruction as the old literal temple did by forms and
acts. As in the beginning God promised to be a "sanctuary" (Eze 11:16) to the captives at the Chebar, so
now at the close is promised a complete restoration and realization of
the theocratic worship and polity under Messiah in its noblest ideal
(compare Jer 31:38-40). In Re 21:22 "no temple" is seen, as in the
perfection of the new dispensation the accidents of place and form are
no longer needed to realize to Christians what Ezekiel imparts to
Jewish minds by the imagery familiar to them. In Ezekiel's temple
holiness stretches over the entire temple, so that in this there is no
longer a distinction between the different parts, as in the old temple:
parts left undeterminate in the latter obtain now a divine sanction, so
that all arbitrariness is excluded. So that it is be a perfect
manifestation of the love of God to His covenant-people (Eze
40:1-43:12); and from it, as
from a new center of religious life, there gushes forth the fulness of
blessings to them, and so to all people (Eze 47:1-23) [Fairbairn and Havernick]. The temple built at the return from
Babylon can only very partially have realized the model here given. The
law is seemingly opposed to the gospel (Mt 5:21, 22, 27, 28, 33,
34). It is not really so
(compare Mt 5:17, 18; Ro 3:31; Ga 3:21, 22). It is true Christ's sacrifice
superseded the law sacrifices (Heb 10:12-18). Israel's province may hereafter be to
show the essential identity, even in the minute details of the temple
sacrifices, between the law and gospel (Ro 10:8). The ideal of the theocratic temple
will then first be realized.
1. beginning of the year—the
ecclesiastical year, the first month of which was Nisan.
the city … thither—Jerusalem,
the center to which all the prophet's thoughts tended.
2. visions of God—divinely sent
very high mountain—Moriah, very high,
as compared with the plains of Babylon, still more so as to its
moral elevation (Eze 17:22; 20:40).
by which—Ezekiel coming from the north
is set down at (as the Hebrew for "upon" may be
translated) Mount Moriah, and sees the city-like frame of the temple
stretching southward. In Eze 40:3, "God brings him thither," that is,
close up to it, so as to inspect it minutely (compare Re 21:10). In this closing vision, as in the
opening one of the book, the divine hand is laid on the prophet, and he
is borne away in the visions of God. But the scene there was by the
Chebar, Jehovah having forsaken Jerusalem; now it is the mountain of
God, Jehovah having returned thither; there, the vision was calculated
to inspire terror; here, hope and assurance.
3. man—The Old Testament manifestations
of heavenly beings as men prepared men's minds for the coming
line—used for longer measurements
reed—used in measuring houses (Re 21:15). It marked the straightness of
5. Measures were mostly taken from the human
body. The greater cubit, the length from the elbow to the end of
the middle finger, a little more than two feet: exceeding the ordinary
cubit (from the elbow to the wrist) by an hand-breadth, that is,
twenty-one inches in all. Compare Eze 43:13, with Eze 40:5. The palm was the full
breadth of the hand, three and a half inches.
breadth of the building—that is, the
boundary wall. The imperfections in the old temple's boundary wall were
to have no place here. The buildings attached to it had been sometimes
turned to common uses; for example, Jeremiah was imprisoned in one
20:2; 29:26). But now all
these were to be holy to the Lord. The gates and doorways to the city
of God were to be imprinted in their architecture with the idea of the
exclusion of everything defiled (Re 21:27). The east gate was to be especially
sacred, as it was through it the glory of God had departed (Eze 11:23), and through it the glory was to
return (Eze 43:1, 2; 44:2, 3).
6. the stairs—seven in number (Eze 40:26).
threshold—the sill [Fairbairn].
other threshold—Fairbairn considers there is but one threshold, and
translates, "even the one threshold, one rod broad." But there is
another threshold mentioned in Eze 40:7. The two thresholds here seem to be the
upper and the lower.
7. chamber—These chambers were for the
use of the Levites who watched at the temple gates;
guard-chambers (2Ki 22:4; 1Ch 9:26, 27); also used for storing utensils and
9. posts—projecting column-faced fronts
of the sides of the doorway, opposite to one another.
12. space—rather, "the boundary."
16. narrow—latticed [Henderson]. The ancients had no glass, so they had
them latticed, narrow in the interior of the walls, and widening at the
exterior. "Made fast," or "firmly fixed in the chambers" [Maurer].
17. pavement—tesselated mosaic (Es 1:6).
chambers—serving as lodgings for the
priests on duty in the temple, and as receptacles of the tithes of
salt, wine, and oil.
18. The higher pavement was level with the
entrance of the gates, the lower was on either side of the raised
pavement thus formed. Whereas Solomon's temple had an outer court open
to alterations and even idolatrous innovations (2Ki 23:11,
12; 1Ch 20:5), in this there
was to be no room for human corruptions. Its compass was exactly
defined, one hundred cubits; and the fine pavement implied it was to be
trodden only by clean feet (compare Isa 35:8).
20-27. The different approaches corresponded
in plan. In the case of these two other gates, however, no mention is
made of a building with thirty chambers such as was found on the east
side. Only one was needed, and it was assigned to the east as being the
sacred quarter, and that most conveniently situated for the officiating
23. and toward the east—an elliptical
expression for "The gate of the inner court was over against the
(outer) gate toward the north (just as the inner gate was over against
the outer gate) toward the east."
28-37. The inner court and its gates.
according to these measures—namely,
the measures of the outer gate. The figure and proportions of the inner
answered to the outer.
30. This verse is omitted in the
Septuagint, the Vatican manuscript, and others. The dimensions
here of the inner gate do not correspond to the outer, though Eze 40:28 asserts that they do. Havernick, retaining the verse, understands it of
another porch looking inwards toward the temple.
arches—the porch [Fairbairn]; the columns on which the arches rest
31. eight steps—The outer porch had only
seven (Eze 40:26).
37. posts—the Septuagint and
Vulgate read, "the porch," which answers better to Eze 40:31-34. "The arches" or "porch" [Maurer].
38. chambers … entries—literally,
"a chamber and its door."
by the posts—that is, at or
close by the posts or columns.
where they washed the burnt
offering—This does not apply to all the gates but only to the
north gate. For Le 1:11
directs the sacrifices to be killed north of the altar; and Eze 8:5 calls the north gate, "the gate of
the altar." And Eze 40:40
particularly mentions the north gate.
43. hooks—cooking apparatus for cooking
the flesh of the sacrifices that fell to the priests. The hooks were
"fastened" in the walls within the apartment, to hang the meat from, so
as to roast it. The Hebrew comes from a root "fixed" or
44. the chambers of the singers—two in
number, as proved by what follows: "and their prospect (that is, the
prospect of one) was toward the south, (and) one toward the
north." So the Septuagint.
46. Zadok—lineally descended from Aaron.
He had the high priesthood conferred on him by Solomon, who had set
aside the family of Ithamar because of the part which Abiathar had
taken in the rebellion of Adonijah (1Ki 1:7; 2:26, 27).
47. court, an hundred cubits …
foursquare—not to be confounded with the inner court, or
court of Israel, which was open to all who had sacrifices to bring, and
went round the three sides of the sacred territory, one hundred cubits
broad. This court was one hundred cubits square, and had the altar in
it, in front of the temple. It was the court of the priests, and hence
is connected with those who had charge of the altar and the music. The
description here is brief, as the things connected with this portion
were from the first divinely regulated.
48, 49. These two verses belong to the
forty-first chapter, which treats of the temple itself.
49. twenty … eleven cubits—in
Solomon's temple (1Ki 6:3)
"twenty … ten cubits." The breadth perhaps was ten and
a half; 1Ki 6:3
designates the number by the lesser next round number, "ten";
Ezekiel here, by the larger number, "eleven" [Menochius]. The Septuagint reads
he brought me by the steps—They were
ten in number [Septuagint].