Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers
Thus saith the Lord GOD; The gate of the inner court that looketh toward the east shall be shut the six working days; but on the sabbath it shall be opened, and in the day of the new moon it shall be opened.XLVI.
The first fifteen verses of this chapter belong to Ezekiel 45. The prince was required to provide and bring the sacrifices for himself and for the people (Ezekiel 45:17); therefore, as soon as the yearly festivals have been described, directions are given (Ezekiel 46:1-3) for the conduct of the prince at these sacrifices. He was required to be always present, while attendance on the part of the people was obligatory only at the yearly festivals. The prophet then goes on to provide for the sacrifices for the Sabbaths and new moons, for free-will offerings, and for the daily sacrifices.
(1) The gate of the inner court.—It has already been provided (Ezekiel 44:1-3) that the outer gate on the east should be kept closed, except for the prince. The same thing is now commanded for the east gate of the inner court also; and, further, the days are specified, the Sabbaths and new moons, on which it shall be used by the prince.
And the prince shall enter by the way of the porch of that gate without, and shall stand by the post of the gate, and the priests shall prepare his burnt offering and his peace offerings, and he shall worship at the threshold of the gate: then he shall go forth; but the gate shall not be shut until the evening.(2) Stand by the post of the gate.—The prince shall enter the sanctuary by the east gate of the outer court, pass through that court to the inner gate, and “worship at the threshold of the gate” immediately adjoining the inner court, while the priests make ready his sacrifices. But he is not to enter the inner court, or to assume any priestly functions. Afterwards he is to go forth by the same way (Ezekiel 46:8, and Ezekiel 44:3), and the gate stands open until evening, though no one else is to enter thereby.
Likewise the people of the land shall worship at the door of this gate before the LORD in the sabbaths and in the new moons.(3) Worship at the door.—The people, in so far as they might be present on the Sabbaths and new moons, are not to worship in the same place with the prince; but in the outer court, at the entrance of the east gate to the inner court.
And the burnt offering that the prince shall offer unto the LORD in the sabbath day shall be six lambs without blemish, and a ram without blemish.(4) Six lambs . . . and a ram.—The burnt offering for the Sabbath, according to the Mosaic law (Numbers 28:9), was two lambs. This is greatly increased here, and the “meat offering” for the ram is also made larger, while that for the lambs (Ezekiel 46:5) is left to the prince’s generosity.
And in the day of the new moon it shall be a young bullock without blemish, and six lambs, and a ram: they shall be without blemish.(6) A young bullock . . . and six lambs, and a ram.—The law required for the new moons, for a burnt offering, two bullocks, seven lambs, and a ram (Numbers 28:11), so that this sacrifice is here diminished; it also required a he-goat for a sin offering, of which no mention is here made.
But when the people of the land shall come before the LORD in the solemn feasts, he that entereth in by the way of the north gate to worship shall go out by the way of the south gate; and he that entereth by the way of the south gate shall go forth by the way of the north gate: he shall not return by the way of the gate whereby he came in, but shall go forth over against it.(9) In the solemn feasts.—Different arrangements were required for the great or “solemn” feasts, because at these all the males of Israel were commanded to be present, and therefore the numbers were very large. This affects both the people and (Ezekiel 46:10) the prince. The first provision is one for securing order in the vast concourse of people: by whichever (outer) gate any one enters (the north or the south), he shall pass out by the opposite one.
And the prince in the midst of them, when they go in, shall go in; and when they go forth, shall go forth.(10) The prince in the midst of them.—On occasion of these yearly feasts, it was no longer necessary that the prince should represent the people, they being themselves present. He, therefore, now worships in their midst, entering with them at the north or south gate, and going out by the opposite one.
And in the feasts and in the solemnities the meat offering shall be an ephah to a bullock, and an ephah to a ram, and to the lambs as he is able to give, and an hin of oil to an ephah.(11) And in the solemnities.—The new rules for the proportion of the meat offering, as laid down in Ezekiel 46:5; Ezekiel 46:7, Ezekiel 45:24, are here repeated for the feast days; and it is added that the same is to hold for all established seasons, a different proportion being prescribed only for the daily sacrifice (Ezekiel 46:14).
Now when the prince shall prepare a voluntary burnt offering or peace offerings voluntarily unto the LORD, one shall then open him the gate that looketh toward the east, and he shall prepare his burnt offering and his peace offerings, as he did on the sabbath day: then he shall go forth; and after his going forth one shall shut the gate.(12) A voluntary burnt offering.—One case in which the prince might present a sacrifice is yet unprovided for. He might offer, like any of the people, a voluntary sacrifice at any time, either a burnt offering or a peace offering. In this case he is still to enter by the east gate; but the gate, instead of standing open until evening, as on the Sabbaths and new moons, is to be immediately shut as soon as he retires after the completion of the sacrifice.
Thou shalt daily prepare a burnt offering unto the LORD of a lamb of the first year without blemish: thou shalt prepare it every morning.(13) Daily prepare a burnt offering.—Ezekiel 46:13-15 contain regulations for the daily sacrifice. The victim is the same as under the Mosaic law; but instead of being offered every morning and evening (Numbers 28:3-5), it is here provided only for the morning. On the other hand, the accompanying meat offering is increased from the tenth to the sixth of an ephah of flour, and from a fourth to a third of a hin of oil.
The rest of the chapter is occupied with the rights of the prince in regard to the conveyance of his land (Ezekiel 46:16-18), and a short description of the sacrificial kitchens for the priests and the people (Ezekiel 46:19-24).
Thus saith the Lord GOD; If the prince give a gift unto any of his sons, the inheritance thereof shall be his sons'; it shall be their possession by inheritance.(16) If the prince give a gift.—Ezekiel 46:15-18 contain provisions in regard to the prince’s alienation of his domain. According to Ezekiel 45:7-8, he was to have a portion of land on each side of the “oblation,” which should be sufficiently ample to prevent any attempts on his part at violence and exaction. For the same purpose, it was necessary that this territory should remain inalienably in his family. He might therefore convey any portion of it to his sons in fee simple, for they would naturally inherit it; but a conveyance to any one else came under the Mosaic law (Leviticus 25), and reverted to him or his heirs in the year of Jubile, here called “the year of liberty.”
Moreover the prince shall not take of the people's inheritance by oppression, to thrust them out of their possession; but he shall give his sons inheritance out of his own possession: that my people be not scattered every man from his possession.(18) Shall not take of the people’s inheritance.—Fresh warning is here given against oppression on the part of the prince, and he is reminded that the territory given inalienably to him and his heirs is to provide for his sons’ inheritance.
After he brought me through the entry, which was at the side of the gate, into the holy chambers of the priests, which looked toward the north: and, behold, there was a place on the two sides westward.(19) At the side of the gate.—The concluding verses of the chapter are occupied with the arrangements for cooking the sacrificial food of the priests and the people. The latter could partake only of the peace offerings, but the priests, in addition to their portion of these, were required to consume the flesh of the sin and trespass offerings, and the greater part of the “meat offerings.” The prophet is first shown the rooms for the priests’ cooking. He was taken along the walk (Plan II., K) mentioned in Ezekiel 42:4, which led from the steps of the gate of the inner court to the priests’ chambers. There he saw “a place on the two sides westward,” i.e., two places, one at the west of each building of priests’ chambers. Nothing is said of their size, and they may be assumed to have had the same dimensions (40 cubits by 30—Ezekiel 46:22) as those of the people’s kitchens. They are marked F on Plan II.
Then said he unto me, This is the place where the priests shall boil the trespass offering and the sin offering, where they shall bake the meat offering; that they bear them not out into the utter court, to sanctify the people.(20) Shall boil . . . shall bake.—The flesh of all sacrifices except the Passover was by the law required to be boiled, and the unbloody “meat offering,” when not already cooked, was to be baked.
Bear them not out into the utter court.—In one sense the priestly chambers and also these cooking rooms were themselves in the outer court; but as already remarked, these, with the walk that led to them, although within the enclosure of the outer, were considered as appurtenances of, and therefore belonging to, the inner court. The reason given for not bearing the flesh of the sin and trespass offering into the outer court is, lest they should thereby “sanctify the people,” and the same reason is given in Ezekiel 44:19 for not allowing the priests’ garments to come into the outer court. Under the law all those offerings which it was the duty of the priests to consume are called “most holy,” and whoever touched them or the sacred vessels of the sanctuary became “holy” in the sense of set apart to God (Leviticus 6:18; also Exodus 29:37; Exodus 30:29). The object of the command is therefore to prevent that ceremonial sanctification of the people which would interfere with their ordinary life.
Then he brought me forth into the utter court, and caused me to pass by the four corners of the court; and, behold, in every corner of the court there was a court.(21) The utter court.—The prophet had just been in those chambers which, although they stood within the area of the outer court, were considered as belonging to the inner. He is now brought into the outer court, properly so called.
In every corner of the court there was a court.—In each of the angles of the outer court a place was set apart for the boiling of the flesh of the peace offerings. These were of considerable size—40 cubits by 30 (Ezekiel 46:22), and appear to have been enclosed by a wall but not covered above. The word translated joined is of very uncertain meaning, but its most probable sense is enclosed. These courts are marked E on Plan II.
And there was a row of building round about in them, round about them four, and it was made with boiling places under the rows round about.(23) A row of building.—Around the walls of these enclosures were fixed tables of masonry with boiling places underneath.
Then said he unto me, These are the places of them that boil, where the ministers of the house shall boil the sacrifice of the people.(24) Ministers of the house.—Not priests, but Temple servants, who were usually Levites.