Ezekiel 40 COMMENTARY (Pulpit)

Ezekiel 40
Pulpit Commentary
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.
Verses 1-4. - The introduction to the vision. Verse 1. - In the five and twentieth year of our captivity; i.e. in B.C. 575, assuming Jehoiakin's deportation to have taken place B.C. 600, i.e. in the fiftieth year of the prophet's age, in the twenty-fifth of his prophetic calling, and in the fourteenth after the fall of Jerusalem. As the last note of time was the twelfth year (Ezekiel 32:17), it may be assumed the interval was largely occupied in receiving and delivering the prophecies that fall between those dates, though it is more than likely a period of silence preceded the vision of which this last section of the book preserves an account. If not the last of the prophet's utterances (see Ezekiel 29:17), it was beyond question the grandest and most momentous. Accordingly, the prophet notes with his customary exactness that the vision came to him in the beginning of the year, which Hitzig, whom Dr. Currey, in the 'Speaker's Commentary' follows, believes to have been a jubilee year, which began on the tenth day of the seventh month. As, however, the practice of commencing the year with this month was not introduced among the Jews till after the exile, and as Ezekiel everywhere follows the purely Mosaic arrangement of the year, the presumption is that the beginning of the year here alluded to was the month Abib, and that the tenth day of the month was the day on which the Torah enjoined the selection of a lamb for the Passover. Indeed, the two clauses in Ezekiel read like an abbreviation of the Mosaic statute (Exodus 12:2, 3) - a circumstance sufficiently striking and probably significant, though emphasis should not, with Hengstenberg, be laid upon the fact that every word in Ezekiel's copy is found in the Exodus original. On that day, which was the anniversary of the beginning of a merciful deliverance to Israel in Egypt, of the initial step in a gracious process of transforming Pharaoh's captives into a nation, - on that day (for emphasis the selfsame day, as in Ezekiel 24:2), the prophet's soul was rapt into an ecstasy (see on Ezekiel 1:3), in which he seemed to be transported thither, i.e. towards the smitten city, and a disclosure made to him concerning that new community which Jehovah was about to form out of old 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.
Verse 2. - In the visions of God; i.e. in the clairvoyant state which had been superinduced upon him by the hand of God, and in which he became conscious both of bodily sensations and mental perceptions transcending those that were possible to him in his natural condition. Upon a very high mountain (comp. Matthew 4:8; Luke 4:5). Schroder stands alone in taking אֶל as "beside" rather than "upon," other interpreters considering that אֶל has here the force of עַל, as in Ezekiel 18:6, and Ezekiel 31:12. That this mountain, though resembling the temple hill in Jerusalem, was not that in reality, but "the mountain of the Lord's house" of Messianic times (see on Ezekiel 43:12; and comp. Ezekiel 17:22, 23; Ezekiel 20:40; Isaiah 2:2; Micah 4:6), may be inferred from its greater altitude than that of either Moriah or Zion, which pointed obviously to the loftier spiritual elevation of the new Jerusalem. As the frame of a city on the south. What Ezekiel beheld was not "beside" or "by" (Authorized Version), but "on" the mountain, and was not, as Havernick, Ewald, and Kliefoth suppose, the new city of Jerusalem, though this might with a fair measure of accuracy be described as lying south of Moriah on which the temple stood, but the temple itself, which, with its walls and gates, chambers and courts, rose majestically before the prophet's view, with all the magnificence, and indeed (as the particle כִי. indicates), with the external appearance of a city. That the prophet should speak of it as "on the south" receives sufficient explanation from the circumstance that he himself came from the north, and had it always before him in a southerly direction. The idea is correctly enough expressed by the ἀπέναντι of the LXX., which signifies "over against" to one coming from the north.
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.
Verse 3. - The word "thither" carries the thought back to ver. 1. When the prophet had been brought into the land of Israel, to the mountain and to the building, he perceived a man, whoso appearance was like the appearance of brass, or, according to the LXX., "shining or polished brass," χαλκοῦ στίλβοντος, as in Ezekiel 1:7 - a description recalling those of the likeness of Jehovah in Ezekiel 1:26, 27, of the angel who appeared to Daniel (Daniel 10:6), and of the glorified Christ (Revelation 1:15), and suggesting ideas of strength, beauty, and durability. In his hand he carried a line of flax and a measuring-reed (kaneh hammidah, or "reed of measuring," reed having been the customary material out of which such rods were made; compare the Assyrian for a measuring-reed qanu, the Greek κανών, and the Latin canna). Possibly he carried these as "emblems of building activity" (Hengstenberg), and because "he had many and different things to measure" (Kliefoth); but most likely the line was meant to measure large dimensions (comp. Ezekiel 47:3) and such as could not be taken by a straight stick, as e.g., the girth of pillars, and the rod to measure smaller dimensions, like those of the gates and walls of the temple. Hitzig's conjecture, that the line was linen because the place to be measured was the sanctuary, whose priests were obliged to clothe themselves in linen, Kliefoth rightly pronounces artificial and inaccurate, since the line was made, not of manufactured flax, or linen, but of the raw material. That the "man" was Jehovah or the Angel of the Presence (comp. Ezekiel 9:2) the analogy of Amos 8:7, 8 and the statement of Ezekiel in Ezekiel 44:2, 5 would seem to suggest; only it is not certain in the last of these passages that the speaker was "the man" and not rather "the God of Israel," who had already taken possession of the house (see Ezekiel 43:2), and whose voice is once at least distinguished from that of the man (see Ezekiel 43:6). Accordingly, Kliefoth, Smend, and others identify the "man" with the ordinary angelus interpres (cf. Revelation 21:9). The gate in which he stood "waiting for the new comer" was manifestly the north gate, since Ezekiel came from the north, though Havernick and Smend put in a plea for the east gate, on the grounds that it was the principal entrance to the sanctuary, and the distance between it and the north gate, five hundred cubits, was too great to be passed over so slightly as in ver. 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.
Verse 4. - The threefold summons addressed to the prophet (comp. Ezekiel 44:5) intimated the importance of the communication about to be made, and reminded him of the necessity of giving it the closest attention in order to be able to impart it to the people (comp. Ezekiel 43:10, 11).
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.
Verse 5-27. - The outer court, with its gates and chambers:

(1) the enclosing wall (ver. 5);

(2) the east gate (ver. 5-16);

(3) the outer court (ver. 17-19);

(4) the north gale (ver. 20-23);

(5) the south gate (ver. 24-27). Verse 5. - The enclosing wall. And behold a wall on the outside of the house round about. The "house" - הַבַּיִת with the article - was the temple as the dwelling-place of Jehovah; only not the temple proper, but the whole complex structure. The "wall" belonged to the outer court; that of the inner court being afterwards mentioned (Ezekiel 42:7). In having a "wall round about" Jehovah's sanctuary resembled both Greek and Babylonian shrines (see Herod., 1:18; ' Records of the Past,' vol. 5:126), but differed from both the tabernacle, which had none, and from the Solomonic temple, whose "wall" formed no essential part of the sacred structure, but was more or less of arbitrary erection on the part of Solomon and later kings. Here, however, the wall constituted an integral portion of the whole; and was designed, like that in Ezekiel 42:20, "to make a separation between the sanctuary and the profane place," as the Greeks distinguished between the βέβηλον and the ἱερόν (see Thucyd., 4:95). Its breadth and height were the same (comp. Revelation 21:16) - one reed, of six cubits by the cubit and an hand-breadth; that is to say, each cubit measured an ordinary cubit and a hand-breadth (comp. Ezekiel 43:13). Hengstenberg suggests that the greater cubit of Ezekiel was borrowed from the Chaldeans; and certainly Herodotus (1. 178) speaks of a royal cubit in Babylon which was three finger-breadths longer than the ordinary measure, while in Egypt also two such cubits of varying lengths were current (Bockhart, 'Metrol. Untersuch,' p. 212); "from which it might be supposed," says Smend, "that the same thing held good for Asia Minor." Still, the hypothesis is likelier that the cubit in question was the old Mosaic cubit - the cubit of a man (Deuteronomy 2:11), equal to the length of the forearm from the elbow to the end of the longest finger - which was employed in the building of the Solomonic temple (2 Chronicles 3:3). Assuming the cubit to have been eighteen inches, the height and breadth of the wall would be nine feet - no great elevation, and presenting a striking contrast to the colossal proportions of city walls in Babylon and in Greece (see Herod., 1:170; ' Records of the Past,' vol. 5:127, 1st series), and even of the walls of the first temple in Jerusalem (see Josephus, 'Wars,' 5:1); but in this, perhaps, lay a special significance, since, as the city-like temple stood in no need of walls and bulwarks for defense, the lowness of its walls would permit it the more easily to be seen, would, in fact, make it a conspicuous object to all who might approach it for worship.
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.
Verse 6. - The east gate. The gate which looketh toward the east; literally, whose face was toward the east. That this was not the gate in which the angel had been first observed standing seems implied in the statement that he came to it. That he began with it is satisfactorily accounted for by remembering that the east gate was the principal entrance, and stood directly in front of the porch of the temple proper. The same reasons will explain the fullness of description accorded to it rather than to the others. It was ascended by stairs, or steps, of which the number seven is omitted, though it is mentioned in connection with the north (ver. 22) and south (ver. 26) gates. "The significance was obvious," writes Plumptre. "Men must ascend in heart and mind as they enter the sanctuary, and the seven steps represented the completeness at last of that ascension." The steps lay outside the wall, and at their head had a threshold (סַפ, properly an "expansion," or "spreading out") one reed broad, i.e. measuring inwards from east to west, the thickness of the wall. Its extension from south to north, afterwards stated, was ten cubits, or fifteen feet (ver. 11). The last clause, improperly rendered, and the other threshold (Authorized and Revised Versions), or "the back threshold" (Ewald), of the gate which was one reed, should be translated, even one threshold (Revised Version margin), or the first threshold, as distinguished from the second, to be afterwards specified (ver. 7); comp. Genesis h 5, "the first (one) day."
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.
Verse 7. - And every little chamber. Proceeding inward beneath a covered porch, the exact width of the gate and threshold, i.e. ten cubits, the prophet's guide, after having passed the threshold, conducted him to a series of lodges, תָּאִיִם, or "guard-chambers," six in number, three on each side (ver. 10), one reed or six cubits square, roofed (ver. 11), and separated from each other by a space of five cubits square, open overhead and closed towards the north or south as the case might be by a side wall. These "lodges," or "cells," were intended for the Levite sentinels who kept guard over the house (see Ezekiel 44:11, 14; and comp. 1 Kings 14:28; 2 Chronicles 12:11). Beyond the cells stretched the threshold of the gate by the porch (Hebrew, אוּלָם; the LXX., αἰλάμ: Vulgate, vestibulum, "a portico") of the gate within; literally, from the house; i.e. the gate fronting one coming from the temple, hence the gate looking "towards the house." מֵהַבַּיִת, "from the house," does not qualify the threshold as if to indicate that this was an interior threshold in contrast to the former, or exterior, but "the gate," its intention being to state that the porch in front of which extended the second "threshold" was the vestibule or portico before the gate which conducted inwards towards the temple, or on which one first stepped on his way from the temple.
He measured also the porch of the gate within, one reed.
Verses 8, 9. - The divergent measurements of this porch, which are given in these verses, led the LXX. and the Vulgate to reject ver. 8 as spurious, and it is certainly wanting in some Hebrew manuscripts. Hitzig, Ewald, and Smend have accordingly expunged it from the text - an altogether unnecessary proceeding. The seeming discrepancy may be removed by supposing either, with Kliefoth, that ver. 8 furnishes the measurement of the porch from east to west, and ver. 9 its measurement from north to south, with the measurements in addition of the posts (אֵלִים, from אַיִל, "a ram," hence anything curved or twisted), i.e. pillars or jambs; or, with Keil, that ver. 8 states the depth from east to west, and ver. 9 the length from north to south. The "posts," which were sixty cubits high (ver. 14), were two cubits square at the base.
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.
Verse 10. - Having reached the furthest limit westward, the guide retraces his steps backward in an easterly direction, noting that on the side of the covered way opposite to that already examined the same arrangements existed as to "lodges" and "posts," the latter of which (אֵילִים) are here first mentioned in connection with the guardrooms, and must be understood as signifying pillars or jambs in front of the walls. Their measurements, which were equal, were probably as in ver. 9, two cubits square.
And he measured the breadth of the entry of the gate, ten cubits; and the length of the gate, thirteen cubits.
Verse 11. - The breadth of the entry (literally, opening) of the gate, ten cubits. Obviously this measurement was taken from north to south of the gate-entrance (ver. 6), and represented the whole breadth of the doorway and the threshold, or one-fifth of the entire length of the gate-building. The second portion of the verse, the length of the gate thirteen cubits, is explained by Bottcher, Hitzig, Havernick, Keil (with whom Plumptre agrees), as signifying the length of the covered way from the east entrance, since it is supposed the whole length of forty cubits (the length of the gate without the porch) would hardly be roofed in; so that assuming a similar covered way of thirteen cubits at the other end of the gate-building, as one came "from the house," there would be an open space, well, or uncovered courtyard, of fourteen cubits in length and six broad, enclosed on all sides by gate-buildings. The roofs extending from the east and west would be supported on the "posts" of the chambers mentioned in ver. 10. Smend, however, infers, from the windows in the posts within the gate (ver. 16), that the whole extent was roofed in, and accordingly can offer no explanation of the clause; Kliefoth and Schroder prefer to regard the thirteen cubits as the height of the gate, although the word translated "length" never elsewhere has this meaning.
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.
Verse 12. - The space also before the little chambers; more correctly, and a border before the ledges. Though the construction of this border, fence, or barrier (comp. Ezekiel 27:4; Ezekiel 43:13, 17; Exodus 19:12) is not described, its design most likely was to enable the guardsman, by stepping beyond his coil, to observe what was going on in the gate without either interrupting or being interrupted by the passengers. As the barrier projected one cubit on each side of the ten-cubit way, only eight cubits remained for persons going in or out.
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.
Verse 13. - The breadth of the gate from the roof of one little chamber or lodge to another, measuring from door to door, was five and twenty cubits, which were thus made up: 10 cubits of footway + 12 (2 × 6) cubits for the two guard-rooms + 3 (2 × say 1.5) cubits for the thickness of the two side walls = 25 cubits in all. According to ver. 42, the length of a hewn stone was one cubit and a half. The doors from which the measurements were taken must have been in the side walls at the back of the guard- looms.
He made also posts of threescore cubits, even unto the post of the court round about the gate.
Verse 14. - He made also posts. In using the verb "made" the prophet either went back in thought to the time when the man who then explained the building had fashioned it (Hengstenberg); or he employed the term in the sense of constituit, i.e. fixed or estimated, "inasmuch as such a height could not be measured from the bottom to the top with the measuring-red" (Keil). The "posts," the אֵילִים of ver. 9, were sixty cubits high, and corresponded to the towers in modern churches. To the objection sometimes urged against what is called the "exaggerated" height of these columns, Kliefoth replies, "If it had been considered that our church towers have grown up out of gate-pillars, that one can see, not merely in Egyptian obelisks and Turkish minarets, but also in our own hollow factory chimneys, how upon a base of two cubits, square pillars of sixty cubits high can be erected, and that finally the talk is of a colossal building seen in vision, no critical difficulties would have been discovered in this statement as to height." The last clause, even unto the post of the court round about the gate, should read, and the court reached unto the post (אַיִל being used collectively), the gate being round about (Revised Version); or, the court round about the gate reached to the pillars (Keil); or, at the pillar the court was round about the gate (Kliefoth). The sense is, that the court lay round about the inner egress from the gate. The Authorized Version, with which Dr. Currey, in the 'Speaker's Commentary,' agrees, thinks of an inner hall between the porch of the gate and the two most western guard-chambers, round the sides of which the sixty-cubit columns stood. Ewald, following the corrupt text of the LXX., translates, "And the threshold of the outer vestibule twenty cubits, the gate court abutting on the chambers round about."
And from the face of the gate of the entrance unto the face of the porch of the inner gate were fifty cubits.
Verse 15. - The whole length of the gate, from the outer entrance to the inner exit fifty cubits, was thus composed -

1. An outer threshold - 6 cubits

2. Three guard-chambers, six cubits each -18 cubits

3. Two spaces between the chambers, five cubits each - 10 cubits

4. An inner threshold - 6 cubits

5. A porch before the gate - 8 cubits

6. One post, or pillar - 2 cubits

Total - 50 cubits
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.
Verse 16. - And there were narrow (Hebrew, closed) windows, probably of lattice-work, so fixed as to prevent either egress or ingress. That these "windows" (חַלּ ונות, so called from being perforated) were intended to impart light to the gateway, either in whole or in part, is apparent, though it is difficult to form a clear idea of how they were situated. They were in the chambers, and in their posts and in the arches, or colonnades (Revised Version margin). In the chambers, or "lodges," they were most likely in the back walls, and in or near the posts, or pillars, belonging to the doors of these chambers, the clause, "and in their posts," being regarded as epexegetic of the preceding, and designed to furnish a more precise explanation of the particular part of the guard-room in which the windows were. Similar windows existed in the Solomonic temple (1 Kings 6:4). The "arches," or "colonnades" (אֵלַ מּיִת), were probably wall-projections on the sides of the chambers, to that light was admitted from three sides. Thus to one standing within, the whole gateway appeared studded round and round with windows. The description of the gate closes with the statement that upon each post were palm trees, which may signify either that the shaft was fashioned like a palm tree, as is sometimes seen in ancient buildings in the East (Dr. Currey, Plumptre) or that it was ornamented with representations of palm branches or palm trees (Keil, Ewald, Kliefoth). Hengstenberg's idea, that "whole palms beside the pillars are meant," is favored by Smend, who cites, in addition to ver. 26, Ezekiel 41:18, etc., and 1 Kings 6:29; 1 Kings 7:36.
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.
Verses 17-19. - The outer court. Emerging from the doorway inwards, the prophet, accompanied by his celestial guide, stepped into the outward court, i.e. the area surrounding the temple buildings. There the first thing observed was that chambers and a pavement ran round the court. The chambers were cells, or rooms - לִשָׁכות always signifying single rooms in a building (see Ezekiel 42:1; 1 Chronicles 9:26) - whose dimensions, exact sites, and uses are not specified, though, as they were thirty in number, it is probable they were arranged on the east, north, and south sides of the court, five upon each side of the gate, and standing somewhat apart from each other; that they were large enough to contain as many as thirty persons (see 1 Samuel 9:22; and comp. Jeremiah 35:2); and that they were designed for sacrificial meals and such-like purposes (see Ezekiel 44:1, etc.). In pre-exilic times such halls had been occupied by distinguished person s connected with the temple service (see Ezekiel 8:8-12; 2 Kings 23:11; Jeremiah 35:4, etc.; Jeremiah 36:10; Ezra 10:6). The pavement was a tessellated floor (comp. Esther 1:6; 2 Chronicles 7:3), which ran round the court and was named the lower pavement, to distinguish it from that laid in the inner court which stood at a higher elevation than the outer. As another note of position, it is stated to have been by the side (literally, shoulder) of the gates over against - or, answerable to (Revised Version) - the length of the gates. This can only mean that the breadth of the pavement was fifty cubits (the length of the gates, ver. 15) less six cubits (the thickness of the wall, ver. 5), or forty-four cubits, and that it ran along the inner length of the wall on either side of the gates. The breadth of the court from the forefront of the lower gate, i.e. from the inner end of the east gate or the edge of the pavement, unto the forefront of the inner court without was an hundred cubits. Whether the measurement was up to the wall of the inner court, within which, on this hypothesis, its gate must have wholly lain, or only up to the door of the inner court, which, on this understanding, must have projected beyond its wall, is obscure. The first interpretation derives support from the circumstance that the terminus ad quem of the measurement is said to have been, not the inner gate, but the inner court; while the second finds countenance in the use of the preposition מִחוּצ, which seems to indicate that the measuring proceeded from the western extremity of the outer gate to the eastern extremity of the inner gate, and appears to be confirmed by vers. 23 and 27, as well as by the consideration that in this way the symmetry of the building would be better preserved than by making the outer gate project into the court and the inner gate lie wholly within the inner wall. In this way the hundred cubits marked the distance between the extremities of the gates, the whole breadth of the court being two hundred cubits, i.e. a hundred cubits between the gates, with two gates' lengths of fifty cubits each added. The same measurements applied to the north gate, which the seer next approached.

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.
Verses 20-23. - The north gate. This was in all respects similar to that upon the east, though its description proceeds in the reverse order, beginning with the three "chambers," or lodges, on each side of the footway (ver. 21), going on to the "posts," "arches," and "windows," and ending with the outside steps, seven in number (ver. 22), which are here first mentioned in connection with the gates. Its dimensions were the same as those of the "first" gate, fifty cubits long and twenty-five cubits broad. It stood exactly in front of a corresponding gate into the inner court, and the distance between the two gates was, as before, a hundred cubits.
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 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.
Verses 24-27. - The south gate. Here again the same details recur as to the structure of the gate, its dimensions, and distance from the gate which led into the inner 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;
Verses 28-47. - The inner court, with its gates, chambers and slaughtering-tables:

(1) the south gate (vers. 28-31);

(2) the cast gate (vers. 32-34);

(3) the north gate (vers. 35-37);

(4)the arrangements for sacrifice (vers. 38-43); and

(5) the chambers for the officiating priests (vers. 44-47). Verses 28-31. - The south gate of the inner court. The construction and measurements of this corresponded with those of the gates in the outer court, with only two points of difference, viz. that it possessed a flight of eight steps instead of seven, and that the arches, or wall-projections, were toward the outer court. The difference in the number of the steps was doubtless of symbolic significance, and pointed not only to the higher sanctity in general which attached to the inner court, but to the truth that, as one approached the dwelling-place of Jehovah, an increasing measure and degree of holiness were demanded - what Plumptre styles "an ever-ascending sursum corda." The seven steps of the outer door added to the eight steps of this amount to fifteen, with which corresponds the number of the pilgrim-psalms (Psalm 120-134.), which are supposed to have been sung, one upon each step, by the choir of Levites as they ascended first into the outer and then into the inner court. The statement that the wall-projections were towards the outer court showed that, in walking through the inner gateway, one would reverse the order of the outer gate, i.e. would first pass through the porch, then cross the threshold to the guard-rooms, next step upon the second threshold, and finally enter the inner court.
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 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.
Verses 32-34. - The east gate of the inner court. The same resemblance to the outer gates are noted in connection with this doorway, and the same two points of distinction just commented on.
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;
Verses 35-37. - The north gate of the inner court. The same minute specification of the guard-rooms, the pillars, wall-projections, windows, steps, is again repeated, as if to show that all parts in this divinely fashioned edifice were of equal moment.
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.
Verses 38-43. - The arrangements for sacrifice. Three things demand attention - the cells for washing, the tables for slaughtering, and the hooks. Verse 38. - The chambers. As the verse explains, these were different from the guard-rooms in the gates (vers. 7, 21) and the chambers on the pavement (ver. 17), although the same Hebrew word is employed to designate the latter. The cells under consideration were expressly designed for washing "the inwards and the legs" of the victims brought for sacrifice (Leviticus 1:9). Whether such a cell stood at each of the three gates, as the plural seems to indicate, although described only in connection with the north (Keil, Kliefoth, Plumptre), or merely at one gate, and that the north - because, according to the Law (Leviticus 1:11; Leviticus 6:18; Leviticus 7:2), on the north side of the altar burnt, sin, and trespass offerings were to be killed (Havernick, Hengstenberg) - or the east, which is alluded to in vet, s. 39, 40 (Hitzig, Ewald, Smend), is controverted, though the former view seems the preferable, seeing that, according to Ezekiel 46:1, 2, the priests were to prepare burnt offerings and peace offerings for the prince at the posts of the east gate. The situation of the cells is stated to have been by (or, beside) the posts of (i.e. at) the gates (see on ver. 14), but on which side of the gates, whether near the right or left pillar, no information is furnished. Keil and Kliefoth place those at the south and north gates on the west side; that at the east gate Keil locates on its north side, Kliefoth placing one in the side wall at each side of the gate.
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.
Verses 39-42. - The tables. These were twelve in number, of which eight were used for slaughtering purposes, i.e. either for slaying the sacrifices or for laying upon them the carcasses of the slaughtered victims; and the remaining four for depositing thereon the instruments employed in killing the animals. Of the eight, four stood within the porch of the gate, two on each side, and four without - two on the side as one goeth up to the entry of the north gate; rather, at the shoulder to one going up to the gate opening towards the north, i.e. on the outside of the porch north wall; and two on the other side or shoulder, i.e. on the outside of the porch south wall. This determines the gate in question to have been, not the north gate, as the Authorized Version has conjectured, but the east gate, whose side walls looked towards the north and south. The third quaternion of tables appears to have been planted at the steps, presumably two on' each side, i.e. if with Kliefoth, Keil, and Schroder, לָעולָה be translated "at the ascent," or "going up," i.e. at the staircase (comp. ver. 26). If, however, with the Authorized and Revised Versions, Ewald, Hengstenberg, Smend, and others, לָעולָה be read "for the burnt offering," then the exact position of the tables is left undetermined, though in any case they must have been near the slaughtering-tables. As they were designed for heavy instruments, they were constructed of hewn stones a cubit and a half long, a cubit and a half broad, and one cubit high; from which it may be argued the eight previously mentioned were made of wood.
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.
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.
Verse 43. - The hooks. The word שְׁפַתַּיִם occurs again only in Psalm 68:13, where it signifies "sheepfolds," or "stalls;" its older form (מִשְׁפְתַיִם) appearing in Genesis 49:14 and Judges 5:16. As this sense is unsuitable, recourse must be had to its derivation (from שָׁפַת, "to put, set, or fix"), which suggests as its import here either, as Ewald, Kliefoth, Hengstenberg, Havernick, and Smend, following the LXX. and Vulgate, prefer, "ledges," or "border guards," on the edge of the tables, to keep the instruments or flesh from falling off; or, as Kimchi, Gesenius, Furst, Keil, Schroder, and Plumptre, after the Chaldean paraphrast, explain, "pegs" fastened in the wall for hanging the slaughtered caresses before they were flayed. In favor of the first meaning stand the facts that the second clause of this verse speaks of" tables," not of "walls," and that the measure of the shephataim is one of breadth rather than of length; against it are the considerations that the dual form, shephataim, fits better to a forked peg than to a double border, and that the shephataim are stated to have been fastened "in the house" (ba-baith), which again suits the idea of a peg fastened in the outer wall of the porch, rather than of a border fixed upon a table. The last clause of this verse is rendered by Ewald, after the LXX., "and over the tables" (obviously those standing outside of the porch) "were covers to protect them from rain and from drought;" and it is conceivable that coverings might have been advantageous for both the wooden tables and the officiating priests; only the Hebrew must be changed before it can yield this rendering.
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.
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.
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.
Verse 45. - The priests, the keepers of the charge of the house. Under the Law the Levite families of Gershon, Kohath, and Merari had the charge of the tabernacle and all its belongings (Numbers 3:25, etc.); but of these Levites who kept the charge of the sanctuary, Eleazar the son of Aaron the priest had the oversight. Hence the priests alluded to by Ezekiel as the keepers of the charge of the house were most likely those who superintended the Levites in the execution of their tasks.
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.
Verse 46. - The keepers of the charge of the altar. These formed another body of priests, whose duties generally were to officiate in the temple-worship, and more specifically to sacrifice and burn incense upon the altars (Leviticus 1-6.). Under the Law the priests were all descendants of Aaron (Exodus 27:20, 21; Exodus 28:1-4; Exodus 29:9, 44; Exodus 40:15). By David these were divided into two classes - the sons of Eleazar, at the head of whom stood Zadok; and the sons of Ithamar, with Ahimelech as their chief (1 Chronicles 24:3). In the vision-temple the sons of Zadok among the sons of Levi have the sole right of drawing near to the Lord to minister unto him (see on Ezekiel 43:15).
So he measured the court, an hundred cubits long, and an hundred cubits broad, foursquare; and the altar that was before the house.
Verse 47. - He measured the court... and the altar. The dimensions of the former, the open space in front of the temple, alone are given - a hundred cubits long and a hundred cubits broad; those of the latter, which stood before the "house," and occupied the center of the square, are afterwards recorded (Ezekiel 43:13). The distance from north to south of the inner court being a hundred cubits, if to these be added twice two hundred cubits, the space between the outer court wall and that of the inner court, the result will give five hundred cubits as the breadth of the outer court, from north gate to south gate. Then as the length of the inner court was a hundred cubits, if to these be added first the hundred cubits lying before the inner court towards the east, secondly, the hundred cubits covered by the temple (Ezekiel 41:13, 14), and thirdly, the one hundred cubits which extended behind the temple (Ezekiel 41:13, 14), the total will amount to five hundred cubits for the length of the outer court from east to west. The outer court, therefore, like the inner, was a square.
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.
Verses 48, 49. - With these verses the following chapter ought to have commenced, as the seer now advances to a description of the house, or temple proper, as in 1 Kings 6:2, with its three parts - a porch (vers. 48, 49), a holy place (Ezekiel 41:1), and a holy of holies (Ezekiel 41:4). Verse 48. - The porch, or vestibule, according to Keil, appears to have been entered by a folding door of two leaves, each three cubits broad, which were attached to two side pillars five cubits broad, and met in the middle, so that the whole breadth of the porch front was six cubits, or, including the posts, sixteen cubits. The measurements in ver. 49 of the length of the porch (from east to west) twenty cubits, and the breadth (from north to south) eleven cubits, he harmonizes with this view by assuming that the pillars, which were five cubits bread in front, were only half that breadth in the inside, the side wall dividing it in two, so that, although to one entering the opening was only six cubits, the moment one stood in the interior it was 6 cubits + 2 × 2.5 cubits = 11 cubits. Kliefoth, however, rejects this explanation, and understands the three cubits to refer to the portion of the entrance on either side which was closed by a gate, perhaps of lattice-work, leaving for the ingress and egress of priests a passage of five cubits. In this view the whole front of the porch would he 5 cubits of passage + 6 (2 × 3) cubits of lattice-work + 10 (2 × 5) cubits of pillar, equal in all to 21 cubits. Dr. Currey, in the 'Speaker's Commentary,' includes the three cubits of door in the five cubits of post, and, supposing the temple entrance to be ten cubits, makes the whole front to have been twenty cubits. We prefer Kliefoth's opinion.
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.
Verse 49. - Like the gates into the courts, the temple porch was entered by steps, of which the number is not stated, though, after the LXX., it is usually assumed to have been ten, Hengstenberg suggesting fourteen. The last particular noted, that there were pillars by the posts, has been explained to signify that upon the posts, or bases, stood shafts or pillars (Currey), or with more probability that by or near the pillars rose columns (Keil, Kliefoth). The height of these is not given, though Hengstenberg again finds it in the elevation of the porch of Solomon's temple - a hundred and twenty cubits (2 Chronicles 3:4). Their exact position is not stated; but they were probably, like Jachin and Boaz in the Solomonic temple, stationed one on each side of the steps.

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