Ezekiel 41
Pulpit Commentary
Afterward he brought me to the temple, and measured the posts, six cubits broad on the one side, and six cubits broad on the other side, which was the breadth of the tabernacle.
Verse 1. - The temple. הַהֵיכָל frequently applied to the whole building (2 Kings 24:13; 2 Chronicles 3:17; Jeremiah 1:28; Haggai 2:15; Zechariah 6:14, 15), is here used of the nave of the temple, the holy place, as distinguished from the holy of holies (comp. 1 Kings 6:5, 17; 1 Kings 7:50). Schroder alone of commentators holds by the extended meaning. The measuring began from the east wall of the holy place. The posts (אֵילִים), as in Ezekiel 40:9, the corner pillars on each side of the entrance, measured six cubits broad, whereas those of the porch measured only five (Ezekiel 40:48). The phrase, The breadth of the tabernacle; or, the tent (הָאהֶל), has occasioned difficulty. Hitzig, Ewald, and Smend propose to substitute for הַאֹהָל the word הָאָיִל ("post"), which might in itself be unobjectionable, only no such device is required to render the clause intelligible. It is sufficient to understand the phrase as signifying that the measurements noted had a special relation to the entire breadth of the temple, here styled "tabernacle," or "tent," to indicate the covered portion of the edifice, which, in this respect, and in respect of its being the place of meeting between Jehovah and Israel, resembled the ancient sanctuary of the wilderness.
And the breadth of the door was ten cubits; and the sides of the door were five cubits on the one side, and five cubits on the other side: and he measured the length thereof, forty cubits: and the breadth, twenty cubits.
Verse 2. - The breadth of the door, i.e. of the opening from the porch, was ten cubits; whereas the door into the porch was eleven cubits (Ezekiel 40:49). This would have the effect of rendering the door into the holy place more conspicuous. The sides (or, shoulders) of the door - according to Kliefoth, "the side walls," from the door to the corner pillars; according to Keil, the shoulders lay behind the pillars - were five cubits on the one side, and five cubits on the other; i.e. were as broad as the posts of the porch. The length of the holy place, forty cubits, and the breadth, twenty, were the same as in the Solomonic structure. The entire frontage of the holy place was 20 cubits of interior breadth + 12 (2 x 6) cubits, as breadth of pillars - 32 cubits; or, otherwise, 6 + 6, for the two pillars, 5 + 5 for the sides, and 10 for the door opening = 32 cubits in all.
Then went he inward, and measured the post of the door, two cubits; and the door, six cubits; and the breadth of the door, seven cubits.
Verse 3. - Then went he inward; i.e. into the most holy place. As this could not be entered even by a priest, but only by the high priest once a year (Exodus 30:10; Leviticus 16:17; Hebrews 9:7), Ezekiel was left without, while "the man" announced to him in succession the measurements of the adytum, as these were taken. First, that of the post of the door (the singular for the plural, meaning the post on either side of the doorway) two cubits. Next, that of the door itself, which is given first as six and second as seven cubits. Kliefoth and Keil take the six as the height and the seven as the breadth of the entrance into the holy of holies; but as no other measurement of height occurs throughout this description, Dr. Currey regards "six" as the distance from "pest" to "post," and "seven" as the actual width of the door, each post projecting half a cubit beyond the hinge of the door, which opened inward. Ewald and Villalpandus, after the LXX., read, "the entrance six cubits and the flanks of the entrance seven cubits;" and these figures, 7 + 6 4- 7, certainly make up the breadth of the interior; only it is impossible to extract this meaning from the Hebrew without tampering with the text.
So he measured the length thereof, twenty cubits; and the breadth, twenty cubits, before the temple: and he said unto me, This is the most holy place.
Verse 4. - The holy of holies was an exact square of twenty cubits, as in the temple of Solomon (1 Kings 6:20), and to the measuring-man, who had turned himself round, lay along the whole breadth of the temple or holy place.
After he measured the wall of the house, six cubits; and the breadth of every side chamber, four cubits, round about the house on every side.
Verses 5-11. - The wall and side buildings. Verse 5. - The measuring commenced with the wall of the house, i.e. with the outer wall, which, beginning at the pillars (ver. 1), enclosed the temple on its south, west, and north sides. Its great thickness, six cubits, corresponded with and even surpassed the colossal proportions of architecture in the ancient East. The walls of Solomon's temple, though not mentioned in either Kings or Chronicles, could hardly have been less than four cubits thick (see 1 Kings 6:6), and were probably more (Schurer). Like the Solomonic (1 Kings 6:5-10), the Ezekelian temple had side chambers, which, like those of the earlier building, served as storehouses for priests' clothing, temple utensils, and temple treasures (1 Kings 7:51; 2 Kings 11:2; 2 Chronicles 5:1), and measured four cubits broad in the clear.
And the side chambers were three, one over another, and thirty in order; and they entered into the wall which was of the house for the side chambers round about, that they might have hold, but they had not hold in the wall of the house.
Verse 6. - The side chambers were three, one over another, and thirty in order; literally, side chamber over side chamber, three and thirty times; which means that they were ranged in three stories of thirty each; in this, again, agreeing, as to number and position, with the chambers in Solomon's temple (see Josephus, 'Ant.,' 8:03. 2). It is not needful to alter the text, as Bottcher, Hitzig, Havernick, and Ewald propose to do, in order to make it read, with the LXX., "chamber against chamber, thirty and (this) three times," on the ground that אֵל and not עַל is the preposition, because in Ezekiel אֵל often stands for עַל (Ezekiel 18:6; Ezekiel 31:12; Ezekiel 40:2). How the chambers were arranged along the three sides is not stated; but most likely there were twelve threes on each of the longer sides, the north and the south, and six threes on the shorter or western side. Like the chambers in Solomon's temple (1 Kings 6:6). those in Ezekiel's were not fastened to "the wall of the house," i.e. of the temple proper; the only question is whether they were built against the temple wall, as Kliefoth, Keil, Smend, and Schroder suppose, or, as Ewald and Dr. Currey seem to think, against another wall, five cubits thick (ver. 9), which ran parallel to the temple wall, and which, having been built expressly for the support of the side chambers, might properly enough be said to be "of the house," i.e. belonging to it. In the former case the chambers would doubtless be fastened to the temple wall by means of "ledges," "holds," "rebates," as in the temple of Solomon: in the latter case, as Ewald translates, there would be "a light passage between the wall of the house and the side chambers around."

And there was an enlarging, and a winding about still upward to the side chambers: for the winding about of the house went still upward round about the house: therefore the breadth of the house was still upward, and so increased from the lowest chamber to the highest by the midst.
Verse 7. - In the side chambers an enlarging took place as they went up, i.e. the floorage of the second story exceeded that of the first, and the floorage of the third that of the second; though how this was effected can only be conjectured. If the chambers were built against the temple wall, then probably the wall at each story went in, say a cubit or a cubit and a half from the outside, so as to admit the beams; or, if the chambers were built against an outside wall, a similar recession of the wall from the inside may have taken place. In either ease, the (interior) breadth of the house, i.e. of the side chambers, would be upward, and would increase from the lowest chamber to the highest by the midst. Plumptre, after Kliefoth, suggests that the increasing size of the chambers in the three stories may have been due to projecting galleries. Ewald, taking "house" as "the temple," supposes that it gradually became bigger. i.e. broader, as it rose, which could be the case only if the side chambers were built against the temple wall, and the increased width of the stories was scoured By projecting galleries or corridors. Greater obscurity attaches to the second clause, and a winding about still upward to the side chambers, which the Authorized Version and some expositors regard as an indication that Ezekiel's temple had a spiral staircase like that in Solomon's temple (see 1 Kings 6:8); and probably some such mode of passing from story to story did exist in Ezekiel's temple; yet the clause, when properly rendered, does not refer to this. The Revised Version reads, "And the side chambers were broader as they encompassed the house higher and higher; for the encompassing of the house went higher and higher round about the house; therefore the breadth of the house continued upward; and so one went up (most likely by a spiral stair) from the lowest chamber to the highest by the middle chamber."
I saw also the height of the house round about: the foundations of the side chambers were a full reed of six great cubits.
Verse 8 explains that "the house" did not stand upon the level ground, but, like many temple buildings in antiquity (see Schurer, in Riehm's 'Handworterbuch,' art. "Tern. pel Salerno"), upon a height - or, raised basement (Revised Version) - round about, which agrees with the statement in Ezekiel 40:49 that the temple was approached by means of a stair. In consequence of this, the foundations of the side chambers were a full reed of six great cubits; or, of six cubits to the joining (Revised Version); "six cubits to the story" (Ewald); literally, six cubits to the armpit. This can hardly mean six cubits each equal to the distance from the elbow to the wrist, which would be a new definition of the length of the reed; but as Havernick and Kliefoth propose, must be taken as an architectural term indicative of the point where one portion of the building joined on to another. Accordingly, by most interpreters the six cubits are considered to be a statement of the height of the ceiling above the floor in each story, which would give an elevation of eighteen cubits for the three stories; but probably they mark only the height of the temple and side chamber basis above the ground. Kliefoth includes both views, and obtains an altitude of twenty-four cubits from the ground to the temple roof.
The thickness of the wall, which was for the side chamber without, was five cubits: and that which was left was the place of the side chambers that were within.
Verse 9. - The thickness of the wall, which was for the side chambers on the outside, is next mentioned as having been five cubits, i.e. the same as the breadth of the wall of the porch (Ezekiel 40:48), but one cubit thinner than that of the temple (ver. 5). The clause which follows is obscure. By that which was left, the Authorized and Revised Versions understand the place of the side chambers that were within - or, that belonged to the house (Revised Version) - without intending to assert that the whole space left, which was five cubits (ver. 11), was occupied by the side chambers, which were only four cubits broad (ver. 5). Accepting these measurements, Kliefoth and Keil regard the free space as a walk of five cubits broad on the outside of the side chambers. Ewald, and Dr. Currey, in the 'Speaker's Commentary,' place the five cubits between the temple wall and the side chambers.
And between the chambers was the wideness of twenty cubits round about the house on every side.
Verse 10. - Ewald and Smend, following the LXX., combine vers.; 9 and 10 thus: "And that which was left between the side chambers of the house and the cells (along the inner court wall) was twenty cubits round about the house on every side." Interpreters who reject this combination of the verses explain ver. 10 as a statement of the distance between the outside wall of the side chambers and the cells of the inner court. Between the two lay the wideness of twenty cubits; i.e. a free space of such breadth on the north, south, and west sides of the house.
And the doors of the side chambers were toward the place that was left, one door toward the north, and another door toward the south: and the breadth of the place that was left was five cubits round about.
Verse 11. - The place that was left has been differently explained (see above on ver. 9); but on any hypothesis the side chambers opened on the free space towards the north and towards the south, g.s. one row of chambers was entered by a door from the south, another by a door from the north. The corridor into which the chambers opened - whether between them and the house (Ewald, Currey) or between them and an outside wall (Kliefoth, Hengstenberg, Keil) - was five cubits broad. Thus the whole breadth of the temple court can be obtained.

I. The breadth of the court -

1. Breadth of the house 20 cubits

2. Breadth of wall, 6 × 2 cubits = 12 cubits

3. Breadth of chambers, 4 × 2 cubits = 8 cubits

4. Breadth of chamber wall, 5 × 2 cubits = 10 cubits

5. Breadth of corridor, 5 × 2 cubits = 10 cubits

6. Breadth of free space, 20 × 2 cubits = 40 cubits

Total ? 100 cubits

II. The length of the court -

1. The length of the house ... 60 cubits

2. The temple wall 6 cubits

3. The chambers 4 cubits

4. The chamber wall 5 cubits

5. The corridor 5 cubits

6. The space towards the west 20 cubits

Total ... 100 cubits

The "house" was thus one hundred cubits square. The perch of the house was reckoned as belonging to the inner court (Ezekiel 40:48).

Now the building that was before the separate place at the end toward the west was seventy cubits broad; and the wall of the building was five cubits thick round about, and the length thereof ninety cubits.
Verses 12-14. - The separate place. Verse 12. - The building that was before the separate place. The word הַגּזְרָה, occurring only in this chapter, and translated "separate place," is derived from a root signifying to "cut off," and here denotes a space behind the temple on the west, which was marked off from the rest of the ground on which the temple with its courts and chambers stood, and devoted most likely to less sacred purposes. Behind Solomon's temple lay a similar space (2 Kings 23:11; 1 Chronicles 26:18), with buildings upon it and a separate way out; and as the name gizrah appears to convey the notion of something that required to be kept apart and removed from the sacred precincts, the opinion of Kliefoth is probably correct that "this space with its buildings was to be used for the reception of all refuse, sweepings, all kinds of rubbish - in brief, of everything that was separated or rejected when the holy service was performed in the temple, and that this was the reason why it received the name of 'the separate place.' The dimensions of this building were

(1) the breadth, seventy cubits;

(2) the length, ninety cubits;

(3) the thickness of the wall, five cubits round about. Vers. 13, 14. - Thus the whole breadth of this erection was seventy plus ten, or eighty cubits; which, with ten cubits of free space on the north and south sides, make a hundred cubits in all. Its whole length was ninety plus ten, or a hundred cubits. The entire area was thus once more a hundred cubits square. At this point, again, a convenient estimate of the whole dimensions of the temple area may be made.

I. The breadth of the area from west to east -

1. The separate place (including walls) 100 cubits

2. The "house" (with free space behind) 100 cubits

3. The inner court 100 cubits

4. The outer court (the two gates with space between them) 200 cubits

Total ... 500 cubits

II. The length of the area from north to south -

1. The outer court (the two northern gates with spaces between them) 200 cubits

2. The "house" (with free space on both sides) 100 cubits

3. The outer court (the two southern gates with distance between them) ... 200 cubits

Total - 500 cubits Vers. 15-26. - The projecting portions of the temple building.
So he measured the house, an hundred cubits long; and the separate place, and the building, with the walls thereof, an hundred cubits long;
Also the breadth of the face of the house, and of the separate place toward the east, an hundred cubits.
And he measured the length of the building over against the separate place which was behind it, and the galleries thereof on the one side and on the other side, an hundred cubits, with the inner temple, and the porches of the court;
Verse 15. - With this verse begins a summary of measurements of which some have been already given, while others are new. Starting from the gizrah, or separate place, this summary mentions that the "man" measured

(1) the whole length of the erection;

(2) the length of its "galleries" on the north and south sides; and

(3) the inner temple with the porches of the court.

The length of the separate place is not stated, that having been already done (ver. 13). The length of the galleries is specified as a hundred cubits, which shows they extended along the whole side of the building. As for the nature of these "galleries," or אַתִּקִים, nothing can be ascertained from the derivation of the word. The LXX. renders it in this verse by ἀπόλοιπα ("things left over"), in Ezekiel 42:3 and 5 by περίσυλα and στοαί: the Vulgate has here ethecas, the Hebrew Latinized, and in Ezekiel 42. portions. The ethekim were most likely passages or perches running along both (north and south) sides of the building, and supported either by pillars or ledges in the wall. The inner temple, which was measured, was the "house" which stood between the gizrah and the inner court; the porches of the court were the gate buildings in the inner and outer courts. Of all these the dimensions have already been reported, and are not again rehearsed.
The door posts, and the narrow windows, and the galleries round about on their three stories, over against the door, cieled with wood round about, and from the ground up to the windows, and the windows were covered;
Verses 16, 17 introduce several new details.

(1) That the door-posts (rather, thresholds), and the narrow (or, closed) windows, and the galleries round about on their three stories, were covered with a wainscoting of wood from the ground up to the windows.

(2) That the windows, whether openings on the first floor (Kliefoth) or skylights in the roof (Hengstenberg), were "covered," which may signify, as Ewald and Plumptre think, that they were not left open, but protected by a lattice-work of bars or planks; or, as Currey suggests, that they were wainscoted as well as the space from the ground to the windows.

(3) That nothing was constructed by caprice or at random, but that all about the building proceeded by exact measurement.
To that above the door, even unto the inner house, and without, and by all the wall round about within and without, by measure.
And it was made with cherubims and palm trees, so that a palm tree was between a cherub and a cherub; and every cherub had two faces;
Verses 18-20. - As in Solomon's temple (1 Kings 6:29), the wainscoting was adorned with artistic carving of cherubim and palm trees, a palm tree and a cherub standing alternately. Each cherub had two of its four faces exhibited (since four could not be conveniently represented on a plain surface) - a man's face (symbolizing the rational creation) directed towards the palm tree on one side, and a young lion's face (symbolizing the irrational creation) turned towards the palm tree on the other side. This particular style of ornamentation was employed from the ground unto above the door, which Plumptre interprets as an indication of the height of the palm trees and cherubic figures, but which probably meant the same thing as the preceding clause, "through- all the house round about." Cherubic figures formed part of the adornment of the tabernacle curtains (Exodus 26:1; Exodus 36:8). (On the nature of the cherubim and their symbolic significance, see Ezekiel 1:5-10.)
So that the face of a man was toward the palm tree on the one side, and the face of a young lion toward the palm tree on the other side: it was made through all the house round about.
From the ground unto above the door were cherubims and palm trees made, and on the wall of the temple.
The posts of the temple were squared, and the face of the sanctuary; the appearance of the one as the appearance of the other.
Verse 21. - The posts of the temple were squared; literally, as for the temple the doorposts were squared, or "the sanctuary post work of square form" (Keil). The remaining clauses ought to read as in the Revised Version, "As for the face of the sanctuary, the appearance thereof was as the appearance of the temple," the sanctuary being the holy of holies as distinguished from the holy place or the house as a whole, The precise force of the last words, the appearance as the appearance, is supposed by Kliefoth and Keil to be that the sanctuary door, like that of the temple, had square pests; by Ewald, that it appeared to be what it really was; by Plumptre, that the appearance was like that he (Ezekiel) had formerly described: by Currey, that the appearance in this vision was the same as in the other visions, and as in the actual temple (comp. Ezekiel 43:2). Something can be said for each of these attempts to elucidate a dark phrase. Smend and Hitzig, follow the LXX. in connecting the last clause of ver. 21 with ver. 22 in this fashion, "And in front of the holy place was an appearance like the sight of a wooden altar."
The altar of wood was three cubits high, and the length thereof two cubits; and the corners thereof, and the length thereof, and the walls thereof, were of wood: and he said unto me, This is the table that is before the LORD.
Verse 22. - The altar. This was the altar of incense (Exodus 30:1, etc.), which stood in the holy place in contradistinction to the altar of burnt offering, which was located in the outer court. The altar of burnt offering in Solomon's temple was of brass (2 Chronicles 4:1), and in the tabernacle of shittim wood (Exodus 27:1); the altar of incense in the tabernacle (Exodus 30:1) and in Solomon's temple (1 Kings 7:48) was constructed of wood overlaid with gold, but in this temple only of wood. Plumptre, commenting on this, writes, "Possibly Ezekiel shared the feelings of Daniel (Daniel 9:25), that the rebuilding would be 'in troublous times,' and did not contemplate an abundance of gold as likely to be the outcome of the scant offerings of an impoverished people." The dimensions of this altar in the tabernacle were two cubits high and one cubit long and broad; in the Solomonic temple, though not stated, they were probably the same as in the tabernacle; in Ezekiel's temple they were three cubits high, two cubits long (and probably two cubits broad). The corners of the altar were most likely "the horns, or horn-shaped points projecting at the cornets." The length. Ewald, Keil, Smend, and others, after the LXX., change into "base," "stand," or "pedestal," on the ground that the length has been already mentioned, and that one does not usually speak of a length being of wood; but it does not strike one as peculiarly objectionable to say that the altar had corner pieces, a length, and walls (or sides) of wood, meaning thereby to intimate that it was wholly constructed of timber. When the prophet's attention had been directed to it, the guide who accompanied him observed, This is the table that is before the Lord, not because, as Bottcher conjectured, the altar was regarded as including the table of showbread, but because in the Law the offerings laid upon the altar had been spoken of as the bread of God (see Leviticus 26:6, 8, 17, 21, 22; and comp. Malachi 1:7); and because in this vision table and altar appear to be used inter-changeably (see Ezekiel 44:16).
And the temple and the sanctuary had two doors.
Verses 23-26. - The doors of the temple and of the sanctuary form the next subject for description. Again as in the Solomonic edifice (1 Kings 6:31, etc.), the holy place and the holy of holies had two doors; i.e. each had one door composed of two turning (or, folding) leaves, ornamented, like the walls of the house, with carvings of cherubim and palms. On the face of the porch without were thick planks, by which Ewald understands "foliage" or "leafwork," but which, with greater likelihood, were either as Keil renders, "moldings of wood" for the threshold; or "cornicings," as Kliefoth translates; if not, as Smend suggests, projecting beams to afford shelter to one standing in the porch; or as Hengstenberg and Plumptre say, "steps." The last verse states that narrow or closed (as in ver. 16) windows admitted light into the porch, while carvings of palm trees adorned its walls on each side. The cherubic figures, Plumptre hints, were absent, because the porch was a place of less sanctity than the temple. Hengstenberg notes that the words, "thick planks," "thick beams," or "steps," as he translates, fitly close this description, "as placing the extreme east over against the extreme west with which it began."

And the doors had two leaves apiece, two turning leaves; two leaves for the one door, and two leaves for the other door.
And there were made on them, on the doors of the temple, cherubims and palm trees, like as were made upon the walls; and there were thick planks upon the face of the porch without.
And there were narrow windows and palm trees on the one side and on the other side, on the sides of the porch, and upon the side chambers of the house, and thick planks.
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