The prophecy or vision, which begins here, continues to the end of the Book. The Temple of Jerusalem lying in ruins when Ezekiel had this vision, (for its date as the fourteenth year after the destruction of Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar), the Jews needed consolation. If they were not promised a restoration of the temple, they would not feel so great an interest in returning home. It is thought by some that no model of Solomon's Temple had remained. To direct them, therefore, in the dimensions, parts, order, and rules of their new temple might be one reason why Ezekiel is so particular in the description of the old; to which the new was conformable in figure and parts, though inferior in magnificence, on account of the poverty of the nation at the time. Whatever was august or illustrious in the prophetic figures, and not literally fulfilled in or near their own times, the ancient Jews properly considered as belonging to the time of the Messiah. Accordingly, upon finding that the latter temple fell short of the model of the temple here described by Ezekiel, they supposed the prophecy to refer, at least in part, to the period now mentioned. And we, who live under the Gospel dispensation, have apostolical authority for the assertion that the temple and temple worship were emblematic of Christ's Church, frequently represented in the New Testament under the metaphor of a temple, in allusion to the symmetry, beauty, and firmness of that of Solomon; to its orderly worship; and to the manifestations it held of the Divine Presence. This chapter commences with the time, manner, and end of the vision, Ezekiel 40:1-5. We have next a description of the east gate, Ezekiel 40:6-19, the north gate, Ezekiel 40:20-22, and the south gate, Ezekiel 40:24-31. A farther description of the east gate, Ezekiel 40:32-34, and of the north gate, Ezekiel 40:35-38. Account of the eight tables, Ezekiel 40:39-43; of the chambers, Ezekiel 40:44-47; and of the porch of the temple, Ezekiel 40:48, Ezekiel 40:49.
A New Plan of the Temple at Jerusalem
For an explanation of this plan, and of the accompanying map of the division of the Land of Canaan, see the notes at end of Ezekiel 48.
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.In the five and twentieth year of our captivity - According to the date here given, this prophecy was delivered on Tuesday, April 20, A.M. 3430, in the twenty-fifth year of the captivity of Jeconiah, and fourteen years after the taking of Jerusalem.
The temple here described by Ezekiel is, in all probability, the same which he saw before his captivity, and which had been burned by the Chaldeans fourteen years before this vision. On comparing the Books of Kings and Chronicles with this prophet, we shall find the same dimensions in the parts described by both; for instance, the temple, or place which comprehended the sanctuary, the holy place, and the vestibule or porch before the temple, is found to measure equally the same both in Ezekiel and the Kings. Compare 1 Kings 6:3-16, with Ezekiel 41:2, etc. The inside ornaments of the temple are entirely the same; in both we see two courts; an inner one for the priests, and an outer one for the people. Compare 1 Kings 6:29-36; 2 Chronicles 4:9; and Ezekiel 41:16, Ezekiel 41:17, and Ezekiel 48:7-10. So that there is room to suppose that, in all the rest, the temple of Ezekiel resembled the old one; and that God's design in retracing these ideas in the prophet's memory was to preserve the remembrance of the plan, the dimensions, the ornaments, and whole structure of this Divine edifice; and that at the return from captivity the people might more easily repair it, agreeably to this model. The prophet's applying himself to describe this edifice was a motive of hope to the Jews of seeing themselves one day delivered from captivity, the temple rebuilt, and their nation restored to its ancient inheritance. Ezekiel touches very slightly upon the description of the temple or house of the Lord, which comprehended the holy place or sanctuary, and which are so exactly described in the Books of Kings. He dwells more largely upon the gates, the galleries, and apartments, of the temple, concerning which the history of the kings had not spoken, or only just taken notice of by the way.
This is the judgment of Calmet; and although every Biblical critic is of the same opinion, yet more labor is spent on rebuilding this temple of Ezekiel than was spent on that built by Solomon! The Jesuits, Prada and Villalpand, have given three folio volumes on this temple, with abundance of cuts, where the different parts are exhibited after the finest models of Grecian and Roman architecture! But still the building is incomplete. Now, of what consequence is all this to the Christian, or to any other reader? I confess I see not. While, then, we have the exact dimensions and accurate description in 1 Kings nd 2 Chronicles, of that built by Solomon, in imitation of which this plan by Ezekiel was drawn, we need not be very solicitous about the manner of measuring and describing used by the prophet; as, when we have labored through the whole, we have only the measurements and description of that built by Solomon, and delineated by a hand not less faithful in the First Book of Kings, Ezekiel 6:1-14, and 2 Chronicles 2, 3, 4, 2 Chronicles 5:1-14 and 6.
As the prophet knew that the Chaldeans had utterly destroyed the temple, he thought it necessary to preserve an exact description of it, that on their restoration the people might build one on the same model. As to allegorical meanings relative to this temple, I can say nothing: God has given no data by which any thing of this kind can be known or applied; and as to those who have labored in this way, perhaps "Solomon's Temple Spiritualized, by John Bunyan," is equally good with their well-intended inventions. Those who wish to enter much into the particulars of this temple must have recourse to the more voluminous expositors, who on this subject seem to have thought that they could never say enough. See also the accompanying map.
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.Set me upon a very high mountain - Mount Moriah, the mount on which Solomon's temple was built, 2 Chronicles 3:1.
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.A man, whose appearance was like - brass - Like bright polished brass, which strongly reflected the rays of light. Probably he had what we would term a nimbus or glory round his head. This was either an angel; or, as some think, a personal appearance of our blessed Lord.
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.Declare all that thou seest to the house of Israel - That they may know how to build the second temple, when they shall be restored from their captivity.
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.A measuring reed of six cubits long - The Hebrew cubit is supposed to be about twenty and a half inches; and a palm, about three inches more; the length of the rod about ten feet six inches.
The breadth - one reed; and the height, one reed - As this wall was as broad as it was high, it must have been a kind of parapet, which was carried, of the same dimensions, all round the temple. See AAAA in the plan.
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.Went up the stairs thereof - As the temple was built upon an eminence, there must have been steps on the outside, opposite to each door, to ascend by. And it appears there were steps to go up from one court to another, see Ezekiel 40:22, Ezekiel 40:26, Ezekiel 40:34, Ezekiel 40:37; and also from the court of the priests to the sanctuary, Ezekiel 40:49. See MMMMM in the plan.
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.And every little chamber was one reed - These were the chambers of the buildings which were within the inclosure of the temple round the court, and these chambers appear to have been numerous. See the map, which has been carefully copied from that of Calmet.
He measured also the porch of the gate within, one reed.
Then measured he the porch of the gate, eight cubits; and the posts thereof, two cubits; and the porch of the gate was inward.The porch of the gate - See account of the gates in the plan.
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.
And he measured the breadth of the entry of the gate, ten cubits; and the length of the gate, thirteen cubits.
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.
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.
He made also posts of threescore cubits, even unto the post of the court round about the gate.
And from the face of the gate of the entrance unto the face of the porch of the inner gate were fifty cubits.Fifty cubits - The length of the building. See MMMMM in the plan.
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.
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.The outward court - This was the court of the people.
And the pavement by the side of the gates over against the length of the gates was the lower pavement.
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.
And the gate of the outward court that looked toward the north, he measured the length thereof, and the breadth thereof.
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.And the little chambers thereof were three, etc. - See the plan.
Arches - Porch. The arch was not known at this period.
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.
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.
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.According to these measures - The same measures that had been used at the eastern court.
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.
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.
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;
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.
And the arches round about were five and twenty cubits long, and five cubits broad.And the arches round about were five and twenty cubits long - That the five cubits broad should be read twenty-five is evident from Ezekiel 40:21, Ezekiel 40:25, Ezekiel 40:29, Ezekiel 40:33, and Ezekiel 40:36, The word ועשרים veesrim, twenty, has probably been lost out of the text. Indeed the whole verse is wanting in two of Kennicott's MSS., one of De Rossi's, and one of mine, (Cod. B.) It has been added in the margin of mine by a later hand. It is reported to have been anciently wanting in many MSS.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
And the chambers and the entries thereof were by the posts of the gates, where they washed the burnt offering.
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.The porch of the gate - The north gate of the court of the priests. See Q in the plan.
Two tables - Some say of marble. See dddd in the plan.
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.
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.Four tables - These were in the porch of the north gate, in the court of the priests: on them they slew, flayed, and cut up the victims. See dddd in the plan.
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.
And within were hooks, an hand broad, fastened round about: and upon the tables was the flesh of the offering.
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.
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.
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.
So he measured the court, an hundred cubits long, and an hundred cubits broad, foursquare; and the altar that was before the house.He measured the court - This was the court of the priests. See FFF in the plan.
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.Breadth of the gate - It is evident that the gate was a bivalve, or had folding doors. The length of the porch was twenty cubits. Josephus says the vestibule was twenty cubits long and ten broad. Antiq. lib. 8:3, 2.
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.By the steps - This was a flight of steps that led to the temple; there were eight steps in each flight. See YY in the plan.