This chapter describes what is not only new in this vision, but also unknown in either the former or the later Temple. Ezekiel 42:1-14 are occupied with the account of certain chambers for the priests adjoining the inner court, but actually within the area of the outer. From Ezekiel 42:14 it is plain that these chambers, although thus situated in the outer court, were considered for ecclesiastical purposes as belonging to the inner. Ezekiel 42:15-20 describe a very large area enclosing the Temple and its courts as an additional safeguard to its sanctity.
(1) Utter court.—Outer court (see Note on 40:31). The “into” of the next clause should be “unto”; so also in Ezekiel 46:19.
Before the building.—The preposition is the same as that translated just before, and also twice in Ezekiel 42:3, “over against.” The length of this chamber, or series of chambers, was 100 cubits (Ezekiel 42:2), and as it appears from Ezekiel 46:19 that it did not reach to the western wall, it must have extended the whole remaining length of the building to the west of the separate place, across the separate place itself, and probably also across the chambers at the west end of the Temple (see Plan II., H, H [Ezekiel 40:44-49]). The chamber on the north is particularly described in Ezekiel 42:1-9, and in Ezekiel 42:10-12 mention is made more briefly of a corresponding one on the south.
The pavement.—There is but one pavement mentioned in the outer court, that which ran along the inside of the wall. The chamber in question was opposite to the pavement on the north side, as it was opposite to the separate place, &c., on the south—i.e., its length was parallel to both, or east and west. “Utter” again means outer.
Gallery against gallery.—The expression is a difficult one in the original. “Against” is literally, unto the face of, or in front of, and stories is altogether wanting. The meaning seems to be that in each chamber building, on the north and on the south, there was a gallery in the third storey, so placed on the south side of the north building and the north side of the south building that they faced each other.
Ezekiel 42:10-12 describe briefly another chamber-building at the south of the “separate place,” exactly like the one already described at the north. There is only need to notice some required changes in the translation. Thus read Ezekiel 42:10, On the breadth of the wall of the court going toward the east, over against the separate place and over against the building were the chambers. The wall is here the same word as in Ezekiel 42:7, and means therefore not the wall of a building, but a fence-wall; it is here defined, however, as “the wall of the court,” and must be understood of the division wall between the inner and outer courts. Along this, as it stretched to the east, the building was situated. Some writers, by a slight alteration of the text, would change east into south, so that for “going toward the east” we should read on the south. This makes the sense clearer, but is not necessary.
This closes the somewhat obscure and difficult description of these chambers, where we do not have, as in the other cases, any similar construction in the ancient Temple to guide the interpreter. It would seem altogether probable that there must have been an additional entrance to these chambers from the space at the side of or behind the Temple, for the convenience of the priests in changing their garments. Perhaps there was such an entrance to the second storey, which must have been about on the same level with the Temple court, but is not mentioned because only the plan of the lower storey is described.