Ezekiel 40:44 MEANING

Ezekiel 40:44
(44) Without the inner gate.--Without must here be understood in a different sense from the without of Ezekiel 40:40, because this is expressly said to be "in the inner court;" it means, therefore, only outside the gateway.

Chambers of the singers.--The description of the chambers in Ezekiel 40:44-46 is not very clear, and has caused very great difference of opinion, and even a disposition to modify the text. But the text as it stands is supported by the ancient versions, Greek, Chaldee, and Syriac, as well as by the Masoretic punctuation. There seem to have been three or more chambers altogether, two at least at the side of the north gate opening to the south, i.e., towards the altar, and one at the east gate opening toward the north. The purpose of the chamber at the east gate is perfectly clear; it was "for the priests, the keepers of the charge of the altar," i.e., for those priests who were on duty at the time in connection with the sacrifices. It is not mentioned on which side of the gate it was placed, nor how large it was, but it is drawn on the plan on the north (Plan II., O). The chambers at the north gate (N), however, are called (Ezekiel 40:44) "chambers of the singers," and yet in Ezekiel 40:45 one of them is said to be for the priests "in charge of the house." The difficulty arises simply from the very common use of the plural in connection with only one of several persons or things, the other being separately specified. To make it entirely clear, we should say, "the chambers, one for the singers, and one for the priests." The singers were particular families of the Levites (1 Chronicles 6:31-37; 1 Chronicles 9:33; 1 Chronicles 25; 2 Chronicles 5:12), and were not of the priestly order. The general arrangement appears to have been as follows: the offerer brings his victim into the outer court (C) near to the north gate leading into the inner court; there the Levites slay it (at x) and prepare it for the altar upon the tables provided, and then hang its flesh upon the hooks within the porch of the gate; the priests "in charge of the house" in the chamber near the inner end of the gate (N) now notify the singers in the other chamber and also the priests on duty at the altar in the chamber at the east gate (O), that both may enter upon their functions.

A, Altar.

B B B, Outer gate.

B? B? B? Inner gates.

C C, Outer court.

C?, Inner court.

D D, Chambers in outer court.

E E, People's cooking-places.

F F, Priests' cooking-places.

G, Building in separate place.

H H, Priests' chambers.

I, Space in separate place.

J, Chambers adjoining Temple.

K K, Walk.

L L, Screen walls.

M M, Wall of outer court.

N, Chambers in inner court for priests and singers.

O, Chamber for officiating priests.

P P, Pavement.

R R, Wall of inner court.

S S, Steps.

T, Temple.

T?, Holy of Holies.

V V, Columns.

W W, Winding staircases.

X X, Places for killing sacrifices.

Y Y, Platform around chambers.

Z, Porch of Temple.

(46) The sons of Zadok.--By the law all sons of Aaron were entitled to become priests, but in Ezekiel the offering of sacrifice appears to be confined to the sons of Zadok (comp. Ezekiel 43:19; Ezekiel 44:15; Ezekiel 48:11). The reason for this is obscure. According to 1 Samuel 2:30-36 the high-priesthood was to be transferred from the house of Eli, and this was accomplished by Solomon in deposing Abiathar and putting Zadok into his place (1 Kings 2:26-27); but there must have been many other priests descended from Ithamar and Eleazar besides the families of Eli and Zadok, and it is hardly possible that all these could have perished in the slaughter of the eighty-five priests by Saul at Nob (1 Samuel 22:17-19). But the body of the priests must have been thereby much reduced, and it is very possible that in the subsequent disorders of the times so few were left who, outside of the family of Zadok, had not fallen into idolatry, that all who were allowed to officiate at the altar came to be called by his name.

(47) He measured the court.--This is the inner court (C?), in front of the Temple building itself, and was just 100 cubits square. In this stood the brazen altar (A), the measurements of which are given in Ezekiel 43:13-17.

(48) The porch of the house.--Ezekiel 40:48-49 describe the porch of the Temple itself (Z) and may be considered as belonging more properly to the next chapter; still, as this porch projected into the inner court, they are not inappropriate here. The first point to be determined in regard to the construction of this porch is the direction in which its length is measured. The porch in front of Solomon's Temple equalled in length the interior breadth of the house (1 Kings 6:3; 2 Chronicles 3:4), the thickness of the walls and the chambers at the sides projecting beyond the ends of the porch. The same thing is true here, even if the length should be measured from north to south; the exterior front of the house (independently of the side chambers) was thirty-two cubits, each of the side walls being six cubits thick (Ezekiel 41:5). But writers who adopt this supposition find it necessary to alter the text in order to harmonise the measurements of both verses. It is better to understand the measurements as taken the other way, like those of all the gates of both the outer and inner court. The exterior width of the porch will then be sixteen cubits or just half the exterior width of the house; and the projection into the court will be twenty cubits added to the thickness of the exterior wall and diminished by the thickness of the wall of the house, i.e., 16 cubits (20 + 2 ? 6), the exterior being thus almost exactly square.

Each post of the porch.--The front wall, on which the gates were hung, was five cubits on each side, and each leaf of the gate was three cubits, giving sixteen cubits (5 ? 2 + 3 ? 2) for the whole exterior breadth of the porch.

(49) The breadth eleven cubits.--This interior measure subtracted from the exterior gives 2 cubits for each wall--a fair proportion between the thickness of the wall and the size of the porch.

The steps.--The number is not stated, but is given in the Greek as ten. It shows that the house itself stood upon a still higher elevation than the inner court.

Pillars by the posts.--On either side of the steps, and near the front wall of the porch, was a pillar corresponding to those in front of the porches of the gates. They answered to the pillars Jachin and Boaz of Solomon's Temple (1 Kings 7:15-22), and appear to have been placed there for the same general purposes as the obelisks in front of the Egyptian temples.

Verses 44-46. - The chambers of the ringers According to ver. 44, these, of which the number is not recorded, were situated in the inner court, outside of the inner gate, at the side of the north gate, and looked towards the south, one only being located at the side of the east gate with a prospect towards the north. Interpreted in this way, they cannot have been the same as the "priests' chambers" mentioned in vers. 45, 46, though these also looked in the same direction. The language, however, seems to indicate that they were the same, and on this hypothesis it is difficult to understand how they should be called "the chambers of the singers," and at the same time be assigned to the priests, "the keepers of the charge of the house" and "the keepers of the charge of the altar." Hengstenberg. Kliefoth, Schroder, and others hold that Ezekiel purposed to suggest that in the vision-temple before him the choral service was no longer to be left exclusively in the hands of the Levites as it had been in the Solomonic temple (1 Chronicles 6:33-47; 1 Chronicles 15:17; 2 Chronicles 20:19), but that the priests were to participate therein. Dr. Currey imagines the chambers may have been occupied in common by the singers and the priests when engaged on duty at the temple. The LXX. text reads, "And he led me unto the inner court, and behold two chambers in the inner court, one at the back of the gate which looks towards the north, and bearing towards the south, and one at the back of the gate which looks towards the south, and bearing towards the north;" and in accordance with this Rosenmüller, Hitzig, Ewald, Keil, and Smend propose sundry emendations on the Hebrew text. Since, however, it cannot be certified that the LXX. did not paraphrase or mistranslate the present rather than follow a different text, it is safer to abide by the renderings of the Authorized and Revised Versions. Yet one cannot help feeling that the LXX. translation has the merit of clearness and simplicity.

40:1-49 The Vision of the Temple. - Here is a vision, beginning at ch. 40, and continued to the end of the book, ch. 48, which is justly looked upon to be one of the most difficult portions in all the book of God. When we despair to be satisfied as to any difficulty we meet with, let us bless God that our salvation does not depend upon it, but that things necessary are plain enough; and let us wait till God shall reveal even this unto us. This chapter describes two outward courts of the temple. Whether the personage here mentioned was the Son of God, or a created angel, is not clear. But Christ is both our Altar and our Sacrifice, to whom we must look with faith in all approaches to God; and he is Salvation in the midst of the earth, Ps 74:12, to be looked unto from all quarters.And without the inner gate were the chambers of the singers,.... These singers are true believers in Christ, members of Gospel churches; whose duty and privilege it is to sing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs; which is a part of internal, spiritual, and evangelical worship, Ephesians 5:19, these are the spiritual harpers, that have harps in their hands, and make melody in their hearts, and are able to sing the songs of electing, redeeming, calling, pardoning, justifying, and adopting grace; these deservedly have a place in the churches of Christ, in the inward court, being inward court worshippers, even all such who sing with the spirit and the understanding; for these chambers were in the inward court: the prophet being brought through the inner northern gate, into the open space between the inward court, saw these chambers; for it follows,

in the inner court, which was at the side of the north gate; in that part of the court which lay near the north gate, where now the prophet and his guide were:

and their prospect was toward the south; that is, some of these chambers, one row of them, were by the side of the north gate, and these faced the south; north and south being opposite to each other:

one at the side of the east gate, having the prospect toward the north: another row of chambers for the singers was in that part of the inner court which was on the side of the east gate, on the north side of it, and so faced the north part of the court. The Septuagint version, if admitted, makes the sense of it more clear, but different,

"and he brought me into the inner court, and behold two chambers in the inner court; one at the back of the gate that looks to the north, bearing to the south; and one at the back of the gate to the south, looking to the north.''

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