Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges
Third Section. Ch. 40–48. Final condition of the redeemed people
This concluding section of Ezekiel’s prophecy is in many ways remarkable, and the main idea expressed by it needs to be carefully attended to.
The passage is separated by an interval of twelve or thirteen years from the latest of the other prophecies (except the brief intercalation, Ezekiel 29:17 seq.). It stands therefore apart from the rest of the Book, with the ideas of which it is not easy in some parts to reconcile it. Some scholars indeed (Stade, Hist. 11.37) consider that in the interval Ezekiel had broken with his former conceptions. There does seem a discrepancy between the place assigned to the “Prince” in this passage and the more elevated part which the Lord’s “servant David” plays in earlier chapters.
On the whole, however, the passage can be only understood if we keep before our minds all the teaching of the earlier part of the Book, and also suppose that the prophet had it vividly before his own mind. This passage contains no teaching. All that the prophet wished his people to learn regarding the nature of Jehovah and the principles of his rule, his holiness, his wrath against evil and his righteous judgments, has been exhausted (4–24). All that he desired to say about the revelation of Jehovah’s glory to the nations, that they may know that “he is Jehovah,” and may no more exalt themselves against him in self-deification, and no more disturb or seduce his people, has been said (25–32). And the great operations of Jehovah’s grace in regenerating his people, and in restoring them to their own land, have been fully described (33–37). All this forms the background of the present section. The last words of 1–39 are: “And I will hide my face from them no more; for I have poured out my Spirit upon the house of Israel, saith the Lord God.” The people are washed with pure water, a new heart and spirit is given to them, the spirit of Jehovah rules their life, and they know that Jehovah is their God.
Therefore the present section gives a picture of the people in their final condition of redemption and felicity. It does not describe how salvation is to be attained, for the salvation is realized and enjoyed; it describes the people and their condition and their life now that their redemption has come. This accounts for the strange mixture of elements in the picture—for the fact that there is “so much of earth, so much of heaven” in it. To us who have clearer light the natural and the supernatural seem oddly commingled. But this confusion is common to all the prophetic pictures of the final condition of Israel redeemed, and must not be allowed to lead us astray. We should go very far astray if on the one hand fastening our attention on the natural elements in the picture such as that men still exist in natural bodies, that they live by the fruits of the earth, that death is not abolished, that the “Prince” has descendants, and much else, we should conclude that the supernatural elements in the picture such as the elevation of Zion above the mountains (cf. Isaiah 2), the change in the physical condition of the region of the holy city (cf. Jeremiah 31:38; Zechariah 14:10), and the issue of the river from the Temple spreading fertility around it and sweetening the waters of the Dead Sea (Zechariah 14:8, Joel 3:18), were mere figures or symbols, meaning nothing but a higher spiritual condition after the restoration, and that the restoration described by Ezekiel is no more than that one which might be called natural, and which took place under Zerubbabel and later. Ezekiel of course expects a restoration in the true sense, but it is a restoration which is complete, embracing all the scattered members of Israel, and final, being the entrance of Israel upon its eternal felicity and perfection, and the enjoyment of the full presence of Jehovah in the midst of it. The restoration expected and described by the prophet is no more the restoration that historically took place than the restoration in Isaiah 60 is the historical one. Both are religious ideals and constructions of the final state of the people and the world. Among other things which gave rise to what appears to us an incompatible union of natural and supernatural were two fundamental conceptions of the Hebrew writers. They could not conceive of a life of man except such a life as we now lead in the body. This bodily life could be lived nowhere but upon the earth, and it could be supported only by the sustenance natural to man. Ezekiel considers death still to prevail in the final state. In this he is followed by some prophets after him (Isaiah 65:20), who do not expect immortality but only patriarchal longevity, a life like the “days of a tree,” while others assume that death will be destroyed (Isaiah 25:7-8). The other conception was that true religious perfection was realized only through Jehovah’s personal presence among his people, when the tabernacle of God was with men. The words with which Ezekiel closes his Book are: “And the name of the city from that day shall be, The Lord is there” To us a bodily life of man upon the earth such as we now live, and a personal presence of Jehovah in the most real sense in the midst of men, appear things incompatible. To the Hebrew mind they were not so, or perhaps in their lofty religious idealism the prophets did not reflect on the possibility of their ideals being realized in fact. The temptation, however, to allegorize the prophetic pictures of the final state, and to evaporate from them either the natural or the supernatural elements, must be resisted at all hazards.
Consequently we should go equally far astray on the other hand if fastening our attention only on the supernatural parts of Ezekiel’s picture, such as the personal presence of Jehovah, the stream that issues from the Temple, and other things, we should conclude that the whole is nothing but a gigantic allegory; that the temple with its measurements, the courts with their chambers, the priests and Levites with their ministrations—that all this to the prophet’s mind was nothing but a lofty symbolism representing a spiritual perfection to be eventually reached in the Church of God of the Christian age. To put such a meaning on the Temple and its measurements and all the details enumerated by the prophet is to contradict all reason. The Temple is real, for it is the place of Jehovah’s presence upon the earth; the ministers and the ministrations are equally real, for his servants serve him in his Temple. The service of Jehovah by sacrifice and offering is considered to continue when Israel is perfect and the kingdom the Lord’s even by the greatest prophets (Isaiah 19:19; Isaiah 19:21; Isaiah 60:7; Isaiah 66:20; Jeremiah 33:18).
There can be no question of the literalness and reality of the things in the prophetic programme, whether they be things natural or supernatural, the only question is, What is the main conception expressed by them? It would probably be a mistake to suppose that the picture given by the prophet in this section is a picture of the life in all its breadth of Israel redeemed. Many sides of the people’s life do not come into consideration here. For the prophet’s view regarding these his previous chapters must be consulted. The Temple, the ministrants and their ministrations and also the Prince and people are all here spoken of from one point of view. As already said the section is not a description of the way by which salvation is to be attained, it is a picture of salvation already realized and a people saved. The sacrifices and ministrations are not performed in order to obtain redemption, but at the most to conserve it. They have two aspects: first, they are worship, service of Jehovah; and secondly, they have a prophylactic, conservative purpose, to secure that the condition of salvation be in no way forfeited. The salvation and blessedness of the people consists in the presence of Jehovah in his Temple, among men. His people, though all righteous and led by his spirit, are not free from the infirmities and inadvertencies incidental to human nature. But as on the one hand, the presence of Jehovah sanctifies the Temple in which he dwells, the land which is his, and the people whose God he is, so on the other hand any uncleanness in the people, the land or the Temple, disturbs his Being and must be sedulously guarded against or removed. It was former uncleannesses that caused the Lord to withdraw from his House (8–11); and it is only when it is sanctified that he returns to it (43). Hence the care taken to guard against all “profaning” of Jehovah, and to keep far from him anything common or unclean. First, the sacred “oblation,” the domain of the priests, Levites, prince and city is placed in the centre of the restored tribes, Judah on one side of it and Benjamin on the other (Ezekiel 45:1-8, Ezekiel 48:8 seq.). In the midst of this oblation is the portion of the priests, that of the Levites lying on one side, and that of the city on the other. In the middle of the priests’ portion stands the Temple. This is a great complex of buildings, around which on all sides lies a free space or suburbs. Then comes a great wall surrounding the whole buildings, forming a square of five hundred cubits. Within this wall is an outer court; and within this an inner court, accessible only to the priests, even the prince being debarred from setting his foot in it. In this inner court stands the altar, and to the back of it the Temple House. The House has also a graduated series of compartments increasing in sanctity inwards—an outer apartment or porch, an inner or holy place, and an innermost, where the presence of Jehovah abides. Only the priests can serve at Jehovah’s table, the altar, and enter the house, and only the Levites can handle the sacred offerings of the people, whether to slay them or boil them for the sacrificial meal. All these arrangements have one object in view, to guard against disturbance to the holiness of Jehovah, who dwells among his people.
This, however, suggests another point. It has been remarked in disparagement of the prophet that he makes little reference to moral law in this section, occupying himself with mere “ceremonial.” The objection forgets two things: first, that the background to this final picture of the people’s condition is formed by the whole great passage, ch. 33–37. It is a people forgiven and sanctified, and led by the spirit of God which the prophet contemplates in ch. 40 seq. He does not inculcate morality, because he feels that morality is assured (Ezekiel 36:25-29). It is true that the people is not perfect, but they only err from inadvertency. But secondly, these errors of inadvertency disturb the Divine holiness equally with offences which we call moral. The distinction of moral and ceremonial is unknown to the Law, and if possible more unknown is the idea of a factitious “ceremonial” which has a moral symbolical meaning. The uncleannesses and the like which we now call “ceremonial” were held real uncleannesses and offensive to God, and the purifications were not symbolical but real purifications. These things which we name ceremonial belong rather to the aesthetic in our view than to the moral, but in Israel they were drawn in under the religious idea equally with what was moral.
Ch. 40–43 The new Temple
The passage contains these divisions:—
First, Ezekiel 40:1-27. Preface (Ezekiel 40:1-4); description of the gateway into the outer court with its various chambers, and of the outer court itself with its buildings.
Second, Ezekiel 40:28-47. Description of the gateway into the inner court with its chambers, and of the inner court itself.
Third, Ezekiel 40:48 to Ezekiel 41:26. Description of the House or Temple itself with the annexed buildings.
Fourth, ch. 42. Description of the other buildings in the inner court, with the dimensions of the whole.
Fifth, Ezekiel 43:1-12. Entry of Jehovah into the House thus prepared for him, to dwell there for ever.
Sixth, Ezekiel 43:13-27. Description of the altar of burnt-offering in the inner court, and of the rites to be performed in order to consecrate the whole edifice.
In the five and twentieth year of our captivity, in the beginning of the year, in the tenth day of the month, in the fourteenth year after that the city was smitten, in the selfsame day the hand of the LORD was upon me, and brought me thither.1. our captivity] that of Jehoiachin, in which the prophet himself had been carried away (b.c. 597). With the exception of ch. Ezekiel 29:17-21, dating from the 27th year (b.c. 570), these chapters are the latest part of the Book.
the beginning of the year] In post-biblical Heb., the words mean the first day of the year, and so possibly here. The phrase does not otherwise occur. The ecclesiastical year or old style began with the month Abib (March–April), and is that referred to here.
selfsame day] ch. Ezekiel 24:2. On “hand of the Lord,” cf. Ezekiel 1:3.
brought me thither] The word “thither” must refer to the “city which was smitten.” LXX. omits, connecting Ezekiel 40:1-2 and leaving out “brought he me,” Ezekiel 40:2 : “he brought me in the visions of God to the land of Israel.”
Ch. Ezekiel 40:1-27. The outer gateway and court
In the 25th year of Jehoiachin’s captivity, which was the 14th year after the fall of the city (b.c. 572), the prophet fell into a prophetic trance (Ezekiel 40:1); he seemed transported to the land of Israel and set down upon a high mountain, on which was a great building (Ezekiel 40:2). At the gate of the building there stood a man with a line of flax in his hand and a measuring reed (Ezekiel 40:3). The prophet is commanded closely to observe all that is shewn him, and to declare it to the house of Israel.
In the visions of God brought he me into the land of Israel, and set me upon a very high mountain, by which was as the frame of a city on the south.2. visions of God] ch. Ezekiel 1:1, Ezekiel 8:3, Ezekiel 11:24.
a very high mountain] The site is the ancient hill of Zion, but it is now exalted above the hills, Isaiah 2:2; Zechariah 14:10, cf. Ezekiel 17:22; Ezekiel 20:40.
by which … frame of a city] lit. upon which was as it were a building of a city, i.e. a city-like, or, citadel-like building. The ref. is to the Temple, with its complex of buildings (Ezekiel 40:3).
on the south] The pre-exile Temple at any rate occupied the southern slope of the hill, and possibly Ezek. recalls this. For “on the south” LXX. read fronting me (neged for negeb).
And he brought me thither, and, behold, there was a man, whose appearance was like the appearance of brass, with a line of flax in his hand, and a measuring reed; and he stood in the gate.3. there was a man] The “man” is not to be identified with Jehovah himself, who brought the prophet to him. It is scarcely necessary to enquire who the man is. He is a creation of the prophet’s own mind, a living symbol of the revelation of God. This revelation personified has the attributes of Jehovah himself; hence the man is like bright brass (Ezekiel 1:7), and speaks with authority (Ezekiel 40:4). Cf. Ezekiel 44:2; Ezekiel 44:5.
a line of flax] For measuring greater dimensions (Ezekiel 47:3), as the reed usually for smaller.
in the gate] Or, at. The east gateway is meant, Ezekiel 40:6.
And the man said unto me, Son of man, behold with thine eyes, and hear with thine ears, and set thine heart upon all that I shall shew thee; for to the intent that I might shew them unto thee art thou brought hither: declare all that thou seest to the house of Israel.4. The man, like the Lord himself, addresses the prophet as “child of man,” cf. Ezekiel 40:3, Ezekiel 44:5. The prophet is commanded to see and hear and lay to heart all that is revealed to him, for he has to declare it to the house of Israel, Ezekiel 43:10.
And behold a wall on the outside of the house round about, and in the man's hand a measuring reed of six cubits long by the cubit and an hand breadth: so he measured the breadth of the building, one reed; and the height, one reed.5. A wall surrounded the whole temple buildings (Ezekiel 42:20). This wall was a reed broad or thick and a reed high. The reed was six cubits, each cubit being a cubit and a handbreadth, i.e. a handbreadth larger than the lesser cubit in use. This larger cubit was probably about 18 inches, and the reed 9 feet. Others, the Egyp. ell, 20½ in.
by the cubit and] Six cubits long, each of one cubit and, &c.
Then came he unto the gate which looketh toward the east, and went up the stairs thereof, and measured the threshold of the gate, which was one reed broad; and the other threshold of the gate, which was one reed broad.6. The threshold. After measuring the surrounding wall the man entered the gateway. On the outside of the entrance, ascending to it, were steps, seven in number, as is stated in connexion with N. and S. gateways (Ezekiel 40:22; Ezekiel 40:26). Thus the gateway was elevated above the ground outside, and on the same level with it was the outer court. Again, from the outer court an ascent of eight steps went up to the gateway leading into the inner court (Ezekiel 40:31), and the inner court was on the same level as the gateway. Finally, an ascent of ten steps led up to the entrance to the house itself (Ezekiel 40:49), which thus stood on a raised platform above the inner court which surrounded it. According to Ezekiel 41:8 the ten steps to the house were equal to six cubits of elevation; if the steps leading up to the gateways were of the same dimensions they would together amount to nine cubits, so that the elevation of the house above the level outside the surrounding wall (Ezekiel 40:5) would be 15 cubits. The whole structure formed three terraces, each rising above the other inwards.
the threshold] The space between the steps and the guardrooms is called threshold, being just the breadth of the wall, 6 cubits. Fig. 1 a.
and the other threshold] This is no translation of the original, which syntactically is scarcely translateable. The words are probably a gloss suggested by the fact that there was a second threshold (Ezekiel 40:7). The definition “broad” is suspicious, because, though in general the smaller dimension might be named breadth, and the larger one length, the prophet going from E. to W. calls measurements in that direction “length” (Ezekiel 40:7), and the direction N. to S. “breadth,” even should it be the larger dimension (Ezekiel 40:11). The words are wanting in LXX. Read Ezekiel 40:6 thus: and he measured the threshold of the gate one reed.
6–16. The outer gateway on the East side
As the Temple lay east and west, the eastern gateway was the natural entrance. Through it Jehovah entered to take up his abode in the new House (Ezekiel 43:4); it was therefore to be kept shut (Ezekiel 44:1-2). The measurements of this gate are given in detail, Ezekiel 40:6-16; those of the N. and S. gateways are said to be similar.
And every little chamber was one reed long, and one reed broad; and between the little chambers were five cubits; and the threshold of the gate by the porch of the gate within was one reed.7. The guardrooms. Fig. 1 bb.
every little chamber was] And the guardroom was—sing used collectively. These chambers were used as sentry-boxes or guard-rooms (1 Kings 14:28), where the temple officers were stationed to preserve order and keep the house. Of these guardrooms there were three on each side of the gateway (Ezekiel 40:10). They were without doors towards the gateway inside, being merely protected on that side by a barrier or fence (Ezekiel 40:12), this allowing the keepers full view of the gateway. They were provided with windows (Ezekiel 40:16), and possibly at the back with doors leading into the outer court (cf. Ezekiel 40:13). The measurements 6 cubits long and broad refer to the inner area.
between the little chambers] Between the guardrooms was five cubits. Between two guardrooms a wall-front of five cubits faced the gateway. Of these wall-fronts there were only two, because the guardrooms were but three. Fig. 1, gh, ik.
threshold of the gate] Beyond the three guardrooms and the two intervening wall-fronts there was another space called a threshold, of the same dimensions as the first (Ezekiel 40:6), leading into the large apartment called the porch (Ezekiel 40:9). Fig. 1, c.
porch of the gate within] Or, toward the inside R.V., toward the house, though the correction is hardly necessary in syntax (Ezekiel 41:25). The sense is the same in either case: the porch, fig. 1, d, of the outer gate lay at the inner end of the building, looking into the court, while the porch of the inner gates lay at the outer end of the gate-building.
He measured also the porch of the gate within, one reed.8, 9. These verses should read: And he measured the porch of the gate, eight cubits; and the posts thereof, &c—the words “within (Ezekiel 40:8) … gate” (Ezekiel 40:9) being omitted. The copyist’s eye when he came to the word gate Ezekiel 40:8 went back to the same word Ezekiel 40:7, the clause following which he repeated. Some MSS. and all the ancient Versions, except Targ., omit. Fig. 1, mn.
the posts thereof] Possibly: the post—sing used collectively. The posts are the projecting wall-fronts or jambs on either side of the exit or door from the porch into the outer court, Fig. 1, no. The thickness of this jamb was two cubits.
was inward] Or, toward the inside (Ezekiel 40:7), i.e. on the end of the gateway building toward the interior, and looking into the outer court. This is specially mentioned because in the inner gateway buildings the porch was on the side away from the house.
Then measured he the porch of the gate, eight cubits; and the posts thereof, two cubits; and the porch of the gate was inward.
And the little chambers of the gate eastward were three on this side, and three on that side; they three were of one measure: and the posts had one measure on this side and on that side.10. The measurer, having passed through the whole length of the gateway E. to W., and named each particular thing on one side of it, viz. threshold (Ezekiel 40:6), guardroom (Ezekiel 40:7), wall space between guardrooms (Ezekiel 40:7), inner threshold to porch (Ezekiel 40:7), porch and its posts (Ezekiel 40:8-9), with their dimensions, now states that there were three guardrooms on each side, all of the same size, and also some other points. For little chambers, guardrooms.
the posts had one measure] Probably the “posts” here are not the jambs of the door of the porch (Ezekiel 40:9), but the wall-fronts or spaces between the guardrooms (Ezekiel 40:7), Fig, 1, gh, ik. There were two of these on each side of the passage, each measuring five cubits.
And he measured the breadth of the entry of the gate, ten cubits; and the length of the gate, thirteen cubits.11. breadth of the entry] The “breadth”—the measure from N. to S.—of the outside entrance was 10 cubits, Fig. 1, ee, ff; and this was the breadth of the passage all along, except perhaps before the guardrooms, the barrier in front of which on both sides contracted it from 10 to 8 cubits (Ezekiel 40:12).
length of the gate] the gateway. This statement that the length of the gateway was 13 cubits is very obscure. The length of the gateway was 50 cubits (Ezekiel 40:15). “Length” is a measurement from E. to W., and cannot be taken in the sense of “height.” It has been suggested that possibly the whole gateway of 50 cubits was not covered; that it consisted of a covered portion at each end, with an unroofed space in the middle, and that this covered portion is here referred to. But no ground appears for calling one part of the passage the gateway; and further the guardrooms and intermediate spaces were provided with windows, a fact which suggests that the whole was roofed over. LXX. read or perhaps interpreted “breadth,” which is equally obscure.
The space also before the little chambers was one cubit on this side, and the space was one cubit on that side: and the little chambers were six cubits on this side, and six cubits on that side.12. space … before the little chambers] A barrier before the guardrooms, one cubit, Fig. 1, fg, hi, kl. The meaning appears to be that the barrier took away a cubit on each side from the passage, reducing it from 10 to 8 cubits opposite the guard chambers. The height of the barrier would probably not be very great. The measure of “a cubit” can hardly be the height, as all the measurements refer here to breadth.
He measured then the gate from the roof of one little chamber to the roof of another: the breadth was five and twenty cubits, door against door.13. The gate building was 25 cubits across, i.e. from the outside N. to the outside S. The measurement is made from roof to roof of the guardrooms. LXX. read or substituted “wall” for roof. The meaning is clear. The measurement inside was three cubits less, viz. passage 10, a guardroom on each side 6 + 6, in all 22, leaving for each back wall 1½ cubits, Ezekiel 40:21; Ezekiel 40:25; Ezekiel 40:29.
door against door] Or, opposite to door. Possibly each guardroom on both sides of the gateway had a door in the back wall opening into the outer court. Others less naturally suggest three doors of the gate lengthways, viz. that before first threshold, that before inner threshold, and the exit out of the porch.
He made also posts of threescore cubits, even unto the post of the court round about the gate.14. Ezekiel 40:14 is obscure. In the first place “he made” is suspicious, everywhere else it is “he measured.” In the second place the number 60 cubits is incomprehensible. The idea that the “posts” were prolonged into pillars of such a height is altogether improbable. Besides, the “posts” are accurately distinguished from pillars, for which another word is employed (Ezekiel 40:49). It is to be observed that the measurer first passes in from E. to W. along one side of the gateway, mentioning the different things with their dimensions of which it was composed. Having reached the porch at the inner end he returns, noting that the two sides of the gateway were in all respects alike. Then from Ezekiel 40:11 onwards he gives measurements of the breadth of various parts of the gateway, the entrance (Ezekiel 40:11), the contraction opposite the guardrooms (Ezekiel 40:12), and finally the breadth of the whole gate building (v, 13). While, however, the breadth of all other parts of the gateway has been given, that of the “porch” at the inner end has not been mentioned, though its length from E. to W., Fig. 1, mn, was stated to be 8 cubits (Ezekiel 40:8-9). It is probable, therefore, that Ezekiel 40:14 supplies this measurement. Render: and he measured the porch, 20 cubits—reading porch (ailam), for posts (ailim), and 20 for 60, in both cases with LXX. The 20 are inside measurement, N. to S.; 22 might have been expected, for the back wall of the guardrooms was 1½ cubits, but a chamber like the porch used for assemblies and feasts (Ezekiel 44:3) might well have a wall of 2½ cubits thick, as in point of fact the wall to the W. was two cubits (Ezekiel 40:9).
even unto the post … gate] At any rate with present pointing: and unto (touching on) the post was the court … gate. It is probable, however, that “post” is either repetition of unto, and should be struck out, or else that it is a consequence of the false reading “posts” in first clause, and should be read “porch” as there (so in Ezekiel 40:37). The latter is more probable: and unto (adjoining) the porch was the court, round about the gate. The omission of prep. before “gate” is difficult, but cf. acc. 1 Kings 6:5, and the more remarkable case Ezekiel 43:17. LXX. read differently, and Syr. wants the clause.
And from the face of the gate of the entrance unto the face of the porch of the inner gate were fifty cubits.15. Measurement of the whole length of the gate-building, 50 cubits.
the face of the gate] i.e. the outside front.
face of the porch of the inner gate] i.e the front of the porch at the inner end of the gate. Either “inner gate” means inner part of the gate, or “inner” means (lying) towards the inside, as LXX. From the outside front of the gate to the inner front, lying on the court, was 50 cubits. The sense is clear though the text may need slight emendation.
And there were narrow windows to the little chambers, and to their posts within the gate round about, and likewise to the arches: and windows were round about inward: and upon each post were palm trees.16. The description of the gateway building concludes with a ref. to the way in which it was lighted.
narrow windows] Heb. closed, i.e. fastened, not capable of being opened like ordinary windows (2 Kings 13:17). Windows were usually openings with lattice-work. Here they may have been loop-holed, widening out toward the inside. For little chambers, guardrooms.
to their posts] i.e. those of the guardrooms. The ref. is to the 5 cubit thick wall fronts between the guardrooms. Cf. Ezekiel 40:10.
to the arches] Probably: and to the porch there of, i.e. of the gate. There are three words in this chapter which need to be distinguished: (1) “post” (ail), the meaning of which is certain from Ezekiel 40:9. It means the front face (thickness) of a wall that projects forward (Ezekiel 40:9), especially the jamb (on each side) of an entrance, e.g. Ezekiel 40:48, of the entrance to the porch of the house, and Ezekiel 41:3 of the entrance to the house itself, cf. 1 Kings 6:31. It seems also certainly used of the front (thickness) of any wall that springs forward, the side of which bounds a space, and so of the fronts of the walls which bounded the guardrooms (previous note and Ezekiel 40:10). (2) The second is “porch” (ulam), the meaning of which is also clear. It refers to the large apartment which lay at the inner end of the outer gate (Ezekiel 40:8-9), and at the outer end of the inner gate, and also to the apartment which formed the outmost of the three divisions of the house (Ezekiel 40:48). (3) The third word is that rendered “arch” (ailam), R.V. marg., colonnade. The term occurs only in this chapter. The punctuators always make it plur., though the text appears to make it sing.: except Ezekiel 40:16; Ezekiel 40:30 (fem. plur.; in Ezekiel 41:15 mas. pl. of ulam). These plurals are of doubtful authenticity. In regard to the word it appears, (1) that it is clearly distinguished from “post” (ail), Ezekiel 40:21; Ezekiel 40:24; Ezekiel 40:29; Ezekiel 40:33; Ezekiel 40:36. (7) The LXX. does not know the pronunciation ulam, uniformly transliterating ailam. (3) Even Heb. uses ailam in the sense of ulam (porch), e.g. certainly Ezekiel 40:31; Ezekiel 40:34; Ezekiel 40:37 (and probably Ezekiel 40:23; Ezekiel 40:26), where it is said that the “porch” (ailam) was towards the outer court There is no evidence that the word has any other sense than “porch.” The pronunciation ailam (êlam) is Assyr. also, the word meaning “anything in front” (Frd. Del., Baer Ezek.).
and windows] Probably: and the windows.
each post were palm trees] The “post” here is that of Ezekiel 40:9, viz. the wall front or jamb on each side of the egress from the porch into the outer court, Fig. 1, no. This alone was decorated with palm trees.
Then brought he me into the outward court, and, lo, there were chambers, and a pavement made for the court round about: thirty chambers were upon the pavement.17–27. Measurements of the outer court and remaining gates
17. outward court] outer court. The prophet passed out of the pathway, where he had hitherto been, into the outer court. Round about on the inside of the surrounding wall of this court (Ezekiel 40:5) was a pavement, probably of stone, Fig. 3, B, and on the pavement chambers, thirty in number, Fig 3, C. The chambers ran round the wall on three sides, the W. being occupied with other buildings (Ezekiel 41:12). The chambers were probably used for meetings and feasts; the ancient high places had such a feast chamber (1 Samuel 9:22), cf. Jeremiah 35:4 (Ezekiel 36:10). It is not stated how the chambers were disposed, whether singly or in blocks They were apparently of several stories (Ezekiel 42:6), but did not occupy the corners of the wall, in which kitchens were situated (Ezekiel 46:11-24).
And the pavement by the side of the gates over against the length of the gates was the lower pavement.18. Render: and the pavement was by the side of the gates, along the length of the gates, to wit, the lower pavement. The pavement is called “lower” because the outer court lay below the level of the inner (Ezekiel 40:34); it extended into the court along the whole length of the gateway, and was therefore (the outer wall being subtracted) 44 cubits broad.
Then he measured the breadth from the forefront of the lower gate unto the forefront of the inner court without, an hundred cubits eastward and northward.19. The “lower” gate is the outer gate (on Ezekiel 40:18). From the inner front of this gate to the outer front of the gate of the inner court facing it was 100 cubits.
east ward and north ward] Or, on the east and on the north. The words are loosely appended, the points being stated from which the measurements were taken, viz. E. and N. (Ezekiel 40:23).
And the gate of the outward court that looked toward the north, he measured the length thereof, and the breadth thereof.20. The dimensions of the N. gate were as those of the E. gate.
And the little chambers thereof were three on this side and three on that side; and the posts thereof and the arches thereof were after the measure of the first gate: the length thereof was fifty cubits, and the breadth five and twenty cubits.21. the little chambers] guardrooms.
and the arches thereof] the porch thereof. Probably all the words, guardroom, post, porch, should be read in the sing, as collectives (Heb. text). The difference is unimportant except in regard to “porch.”
And their windows, and their arches, and their palm trees, were after the measure of the gate that looketh toward the east; and they went up unto it by seven steps; and the arches thereof were before them.22. The outer gate was elevated above the ground outside, and reached by a flight of seven steps.
arches thereof were before them] Probably: and the porch thereof was to the inside, i.e. at the inner end of the gate, looking toward the interior of the whole temple-buildings, cf. Ezekiel 40:31; Ezekiel 40:34; Ezekiel 40:37.
And the gate of the inner court was over against the gate toward the north, and toward the east; and he measured from gate to gate an hundred cubits.23. Render: and there was a gate in the inner court, as Ezekiel 40:27, lit the inner court had a gate, &c. For “and toward the east” LXX. reads: just as the gate looking toward the east (Ezekiel 40:19).
After that he brought me toward the south, and behold a gate toward the south: and he measured the posts thereof and the arches thereof according to these measures.24. and the arches] the porch. LXX. more fully: he measured the guardrooms thereof and the posts &c., as Ezekiel 40:29; Ezekiel 40:33; Ezekiel 40:36.
And there were windows in it and in the arches thereof round about, like those windows: the length was fifty cubits, and the breadth five and twenty cubits.25. arches thereof] in the porch thereof.
And there were seven steps to go up to it, and the arches thereof were before them: and it had palm trees, one on this side, and another on that side, upon the posts thereof.26. arches … before them] the porch thereof was to the inside, cf. Ezekiel 40:22. The palm trees belong exclusively to the “posts,” i.e. the jambs of the egress from the porch into the court.
And there was a gate in the inner court toward the south: and he measured from gate to gate toward the south an hundred cubits.
And he brought me to the inner court by the south gate: and he measured the south gate according to these measures;28–37. The inner court and its gateways
The measurement of the outer court was finished at the S. gate. Opposite to this was the S. gate of the inner court at a distance of 100 cubits (Ezekiel 40:27), and the measurement of the inner court naturally begins with the S. gate. The gates of the inner court were similar in all respects to those of the outer court, except that in the former the “porch” lay at the outer end of the gateway, looking into the outer court (Ezekiel 40:31; Ezekiel 40:34; Ezekiel 40:37).
And the little chambers thereof, and the posts thereof, and the arches thereof, according to these measures: and there were windows in it and in the arches thereof round about: it was fifty cubits long, and five and twenty cubits broad.29. arches thereof] porch thereof.
And the arches round about were five and twenty cubits long, and five cubits broad.30. The verse is wanting in LXX. and some MSS., and in others deleted. No object belonging to the gateways has hitherto been mentioned to which the measurements can apply. The verse may have arisen from an inaccurate repetition of the measurements given in previous verse.
And the arches thereof were toward the utter court; and palm trees were upon the posts thereof: and the going up to it had eight steps.31. Render: and the porch thereof was toward the outer court, cf. Ezekiel 40:34; Ezekiel 40:37.
palm trees … posts] Cf. Ezekiel 40:16; Ezekiel 40:26.
And he brought me into the inner court toward the east: and he measured the gate according to these measures.
And the little chambers thereof, and the posts thereof, and the arches thereof, were according to these measures: and there were windows therein and in the arches thereof round about: it was fifty cubits long, and five and twenty cubits broad.33. little chambers … arches] guardroom … porch, the last at least in the sing.
And the arches thereof were toward the outward court; and palm trees were upon the posts thereof, on this side, and on that side: and the going up to it had eight steps.34. arches thereof] porch.
And he brought me to the north gate, and measured it according to these measures;
The little chambers thereof, the posts thereof, and the arches thereof, and the windows to it round about: the length was fifty cubits, and the breadth five and twenty cubits.36. As before for little chambers … arches, read guardroom … porch.
And the posts thereof were toward the utter court; and palm trees were upon the posts thereof, on this side, and on that side: and the going up to it had eight steps.37. the posts … utter court] Probably: and the porch thereof was toward the outer court, cf. Ezekiel 40:31; Ezekiel 40:34. So LXX. The “posts” are mentioned immediately after, and said to be decorated with palm trees, Ezekiel 40:16; Ezekiel 40:26; Ezekiel 40:31.
And the chambers and the entries thereof were by the posts of the gates, where they washed the burnt offering.38. Read: and a chamber, and the entry thereof (was) in the porch of the gate. The plur. gates can hardly be right. It is not probable that slaughtering took place at more than one gate. LXX. reads gate (sing.) and also porch for posts, cf. Ezekiel 40:37. The chamber whose entry was from the porch must have been contiguous to the porch, but is not further described.
where they washed] Not the usual word Leviticus 1:9. Both words Isaiah 4:4; 2 Chronicles 4:6. LXX. thinks here of a drain or runnel for carrying off the sacrificial blood.
38–43. Sacrificial appointments connected with the inner gate.
The verses are in some respects obscure. The text of LXX. differs in some points, but is hardly consistent with itself. The arrangements for slaughtering spoken of are of course connected with the inner gateway, but points not clear are: (1) which gateway, the N. or the E.? And (2) the position of the tables, Ezekiel 40:40; were they situated in the inner court at the long sides of the gateway, or in the outer court in front of the gateway, on either side of the steps leading up to it?
And in the porch of the gate were two tables on this side, and two tables on that side, to slay thereon the burnt offering and the sin offering and the trespass offering.39. The verse states what was in the porch, in antithesis to Ezekiel 40:38. Possibly the words “to slay thereon” are used generally, not of the actual slaughtering, but of the manipulation of the flesh of the victims. In Ezekiel 40:41 it is said that there were eight tables on which they slew, four of which were certainly outside the porch. If the burnt, sin and trespass offerings (LXX. omits burnt offerings here) were slain in the porch, there would remain only the peace offerings to slay outside.
And at the side without, as one goeth up to the entry of the north gate, were two tables; and on the other side, which was at the porch of the gate, were two tables.40. at the side without] Side, lit. shoulder, is used generally of the side of the gate projecting lengthways into the court (Ezekiel 40:18), or of the side lengthways of a wall (Ezekiel 41:2). According to this interpretation the tables would be at the sides of the gate in the inner court. Others think that the “shoulders” might be the front parts of the gate-building on either side of the steps leading up to it, and that thus the tables would stand in the outer court, two at each angle formed by the steps and the front of the gate. This use of “shoulder” is less natural, but cf. Ezekiel 47:1-2; 1 Kings 7:39.
as one goeth up … north gate] For as one goeth up (oleh) might be read at the stairs (olah, as R. V. mar.). The difficulty lies in the word north or northwards. A.V. renders “the north gate” which is most natural. Others think of the E. gate and render: and on the side without, on the N. as one goeth up to the entry of the gate, i.e. on the left hand of the person going up. But this is extremely improbable. Such a designation of the left hand of a person has no examples, besides that here the word “north” is too far distant from the other word “one going up.” A possible rendering would be: by the stair, at the entry to the gate northwards, i.e. on the N. side of the entry (Leviticus 1:11). On the whole “the N. gate” of A.V. is most probable, but the language hardly decides which gate is meant. See after Ezekiel 40:43.
side which was at the porch] side of the porch, lit. belonging to the porch.
Four tables were on this side, and four tables on that side, by the side of the gate; eight tables, whereupon they slew their sacrifices.
And the four tables were of hewn stone for the burnt offering, of a cubit and an half long, and a cubit and an half broad, and one cubit high: whereupon also they laid the instruments wherewith they slew the burnt offering and the sacrifice.42. Read: and there were four tables for the burnt offering, of hewn stone. The phrase “for the burnt offering” is very indefinite. These stone tables seem too small to slay the offerings upon, and the end of the verse intimates that instruments for slaughtering were laid on the stone tables.
whereupon also they laid] whereupon they laid. The construction is peculiar.
And within were hooks, an hand broad, fastened round about: and upon the tables was the flesh of the offering.43. within were hooks] The word rendered hooks occurs in the sense of cattlepens (Psalm 68:14), a meaning precluded here by the dimension, a handbreadth. Such hooks fitted up “within,” i.e. in the porch, might be used for hanging the carcases upon in order to flay them (Targ.). The meaning “hooks” is not certain. LXX. assumes that the stone tables are still referred to and points differently, reading lip or border for “hooks:” “and they shall have a border of hewn stone inwards round about of a span broad.” Cf. Ezekiel 43:13; Ezekiel 43:17.
flesh of the offering] Except in a clause of Ezekiel 20:28 (wanting in LXX.) the word “offering” is not used by Ezek. The present clause seems to say little. LXX. reads: “and over the tables above (they shall have) coverings, to protect them from the wet and from the heat”—which has a suspicious resemblance to Isaiah 4:6.
The Ezekiel 40:38-43 are no doubt in some disorder. They suggest several questions not easily settled. Upon the whole it is improbable that slaughtering took place at more than one gate. The word “northwards” indeed (Ezekiel 40:40) seems decisive of this point. Either the N. gate is intended, or the N. side of the E. gate, no other gate having a N. side. There are several things in favour of the N. gate:
(1) In Ezekiel 40:35-37 the prophet was at the N. inner gate, and no intimation is given that he was transported to another gate in Ezekiel 40:38. (2) In the Law slaughtering is ordered to be performed on the N. side of the altar in the case of the burnt, sin and trespass offerings (Leviticus 1:11; Leviticus 4:24; Leviticus 4:29; Leviticus 4:33; Leviticus 6:25; Leviticus 7:2; Leviticus 14:13); no injunction is given in the case of the peace-offering (Ezekiel 3:2; Ezekiel 3:8; Ezekiel 3:13). It is probable that the prophet’s legislation and that of the Levitical books will be in harmony. (3) In ch. Ezekiel 8:5 the “altar-gate” is certainly the N. gate. (4) The E. gate, both inner and outer, was to be kept shut except on sabbaths and new moons (Ezekiel 46:1), or on other occasions when the prince wished to offer a freewill offering (Ezekiel 46:12). In favour of the E. gate there is the supposed meaning of Ezekiel 40:40; but the rendering, “on the N. of one going up to the entry,” is hardly tenable (Ezekiel 40:40). Ew. indeed for “gates” Ezekiel 40:38 would read “east gate”—a purely arbitrary amendment. And altogether unhappy is his proposal to read for without (michuçah), Ezekiel 40:40, “runnel” (meruçah)—the verb to “run” being never used of the running of water or fluids.
And without the inner gate were the chambers of the singers in the inner court, which was at the side of the north gate; and their prospect was toward the south: one at the side of the east gate having the prospect toward the north.44. This v. must be corrected according to Ezekiel 40:45-46 as follows: and without the inner gate were two chambers in the inner court, one at the side of the N. gate, and its prospect was toward the S.; and one at the side of the S. gate, having its prospect towards the N. So LXX. The phrase “without the inner gate” means that the chambers were in the inner court, not in the gateway itself.
44–46. Chambers for the priests who keep the house and serve the altar. Fig. 3, D.
And he said unto me, This chamber, whose prospect is toward the south, is for the priests, the keepers of the charge of the house.45. charge of the house] “House” is used generally of the whole temple buildings. Here those having the charge of the house are called “priests,” elsewhere the charge of the house is assigned to the Levites, cf. ch. Ezekiel 44:15-31. This charge embraced several duties: e.g. that of keeping the gates (Ezekiel 44:11), and that of slaying the sacrifices (Ezekiel 44:11) and preparing the sacrificial meal for the people (Ezekiel 46:24).
And the chamber whose prospect is toward the north is for the priests, the keepers of the charge of the altar: these are the sons of Zadok among the sons of Levi, which come near to the LORD to minister unto him.46. The other chamber was for the ministrants at the altar; these were the sons of Zadok, Ezekiel 44:15-31.
So he measured the court, an hundred cubits long, and an hundred cubits broad, foursquare; and the altar that was before the house.47. Measurements of the inner court.
Lines drawn along the inner fronts of the inner gates, and along the front of the house, gave a square of 100 cubits. In this space stood the altar in front of the house, and being high it could be seen through the gates. The place between the temple and the altar was especially sacred. On altar cf. Ezekiel 43:13-17. The square, Fig. 3, iklm; the altar, Fig. 3, F.
And he brought me to the porch of the house, and measured each post of the porch, five cubits on this side, and five cubits on that side: and the breadth of the gate was three cubits on this side, and three cubits on that side.48. post of the porch] The “post” is as before the front or jamb of the advancing wall on each side of the entrance. This wall was 5 cubits thick. Fig. 2, ab.
breadth of the gate was three cubits] The “gate” here means the two bits of wall (N. to S.) on either side, the fronts of which formed the posts or jambs of the entrance, Fig. 2, bh. The language is brief; LXX. either read or judged that the reading should be: and the breadth of the entrance was fourteen cubits, and the side pieces of the entrance of the porch were three cubits on one side and three cubits, &c. These measures are correct and probably original, for 14 (entrance, Fig. 2, aa, bb) + 6 (3 + 3) = 20 the extent of the porch N. to S. (Ezekiel 40:49).
Ezekiel 40:48 to Ezekiel 41:4. Measurements of the Temple house, in its three parts, porch, holy place and most holy place
48, 49. The porch. Fig. 2, A.
The length of the porch was twenty cubits, and the breadth eleven cubits; and he brought me by the steps whereby they went up to it: and there were pillars by the posts, one on this side, and another on that side.49. Here “length” is the larger dimension N. to S. (1 Kings 6:3), Fig. 2, hh; and breadth the smaller E. to W.; Fig. 2, bc.
breadth eleven cubits] twelve cubits, as LXX. The number eleven cannot be reconciled with the other measurements. The length of the house E. to W. was 100 cubits, i.e. 5 (wall, Ezekiel 40:48) + 12 (porch, here) + 6 (wall of holy place, Ezekiel 41:1) + 40 (holy place) + 2 (wall of holiest, Ezekiel 41:3) + 20 (holiest, Ezekiel 40:4) + 6 (wall, Ezekiel 40:5) + 4 (annexe, Ezekiel 40:5) + 5 (outer wall of annexe, Ezekiel 40:9) = 100.
and … by the steps whereby] and by ten steps they went up to it; so LXX. Beside the posts stood two pillars, one on either side of the entrance. These would narrow in some measure the entrance of 14 cubits. These pillars correspond to the Jachin and Boaz of Solomon’s temple (1 Kings 7:21).