Ezekiel’s Temple

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The issue of Ezekiel’s Temple as described in Ezekiel 40 has been raised. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=875azd4PJyg&feature=related

Below is what the SDA Bible Commentary and Ellen White have to say on this issue. It is clear from Ellen White’s comments that this temple was to be part of a conditional restored economy of the Jews.

CHAPTER 40

1 The time, manner, and end of the vision. 6 The description of the east gate, 20 of the north gate, 24 of the south gate, 32 of the east gate, 35 and of the north gate. 39 Eight tables. 44 The chambers. 48 The porch of the house.

 

1. Five and twentieth year. Evidently of Jehoiachin’s captivity (see on ch. 1:2), if the scale of years is the same throughout the book. The fact that v. 1 refers to “our” captivity (as does ch. 33:21) indicates that Ezekiel was taken captive along with Jehoiachin.

 

Beginning of the year. Heb. ro’sh hashshanah, “head of the year.” Since ro’sh is sometimes translated “first,” some take this to mean the first month of the year, namely Nisan. If so, this date was in April, 573, or April, 572 (depending on whether Ezekiel began the year from the spring or the fall). However, if Ezekiel meant the beginning of the year and was reckoning the Captivity by the Jewish civil year, which began with the 7th month (Tishri), this was the Day of Atonement in October, 573 (see p. 572). It is interesting to note that this is the only occurrence in the Bible of the phrase ro’sh hashshanah, by which the 1st of Tishri, or New Year’s Day, is still called by the Jews today, but this does not prove that it necessarily meant the same in that time. The day mentioned is the 10th, not the 1st.

 

Fourteenth year. The 25th year of Jehoiachin’s captivity can be equated with the 14th after the fall of Jerusalem, to allow the three possible dates mentioned in the preceding paragraph (see Vol. III, pp. 92, 93).

 

Chapters 40–48 constitute one continuous prophecy of a unique character. They present a vision of a new temple in careful detail, a new and remarkable plan for the division of the land, and a vision of life-giving waters issuing from that magnificent temple.

 

The prophecy presents several problems of interpretation. Three main lines of exposition have been adopted:

 

1. The literal view. This holds that Ezekiel furnished the sketch of a new constitution for Israel, to be actually put into operation at some time in the future, either immediately subsequent to the Exile or later. According to this view the erection of a temple, the institution of a worship, and a division of the land would have followed precisely the specifications furnished by Ezekiel.

 

2. The futurist view. This finds in the temple vision a new constitution for restored and reunited Israel. However, although it concedes that in some small degree it may have been put into force after the Exile, it looks to a yet future golden age as the time when the vision will receive an exact and complete fulfillment.

 

3. The allegorical view. This denies any literal fulfillment and looks to some symbolical fulfillment in the time immediately subsequent to the Exile, or in the Christian church, or at the end of the age.

 

As to these three views certain comments may be made.

 

Against the literal view, it is urged that it is inconceivable that there should be no allusion to the language of Ezekiel in the historical books of Ezra and Nehemiah, or in the prophecies of Haggai, which all relate to this period. Although these describe the return and settlement in the land, and the rebuilding of the Temple, they make no reference to this prophecy, nor display a desire on the part of the builders to conform to Ezekiel’s directions.

 

Against the futurist view, it is urged that in view of the relations between the old and new dispensations as set forth in Scripture it is impossible to conceive that animal sacrifices could ever again be restored by divine command and find acceptance with God.

 

Against the allegorical view, it is urged that it supplies an inadequate justification for the many details of the vision and fails to present a sufficiently significant interpretative pattern to warrant the extended attention devoted to the subject.

 

The simplest view is the one that follows the principles outlined in the comments on ch. 38:1. According to these principles the temple vision would have been literally fulfilled if the people had been faithful to their trust, but because they failed, the prophecy could not be fulfilled in its original intent. Only a few, comparatively, returned, and these fell far short of God’s purpose for them. Certain features (see ch. 47) will have a degree of fulfillment to the Christian church, as indicated by later inspired writers.

 

The temple vision is a pictorial prophecy, and the principles outlined in comments on ch. 1:10 must be applied. Ezekiel saw representations of the actual and not the actual itself, and the degree of identity remains a problem for further interpretation.

 

Nevertheless, in whatever degree the two vary, a comparison with other prophecies relating to the restoration leads us to the belief that the prophet is here describing a literal state with a literal temple and a literal capital. It is hard to conceive how the Jews, to whom this prophecy was addressed, could have understood it otherwise. The fact that the postexilic Bible writers never referred to this prophecy, and the fact that the Temple builders apparently paid no attention to the plan, may be explained on the ground that the builders were fully aware that the conditions had not yet been met that would permit the fulfillment of these promises. Nor does this series of prophecies give any intimation that the plans were to be executed immediately upon the return of the exiles to their own country. They were doubtless help up as a future goal toward which to strive.

 

Ezekiel’s Temple and Associated Platform

 

If God knew that His temple would never be built, why would He take pains to provide such an itemized pattern of the future state? The answer is: God left no method untried to induce Israel to accept the high destiny originally planned for them. Up to this point their history had been one of repeated failures. God was now offering them another opportunity to begin again. The past would be forgotten and never again held against them. Israel nationally, and her people personally, were invited to take hold of the glorious provision.

 

It is reasonable to suppose that, to convince His people of the certainty of the promise, God directed His servant to draw up an exact blueprint of the temple that was to form the center of worship for the new state. God might have left this promise in general terms. He might have merely told them that in the future their temple was to be reconstructed. But such an intimation would have been rather vague. There would be no doubt as to the seriousness of His intentions if every detail of construction and service was carefully portrayed. Nine chapters in all are devoted to the temple and its services, and details concerning the city and the new division of the land.

 

This is Ezekiel’s last important vision (only that concerning Egypt, in ch. 29:17–21, came later), and its magnitude and grandeur are a fitting climax to his prophetic career. The following colorful epitome of that career has been given: “Ezekiel bursts upon the scene like the storm cloud described in his first prophecy, the progress of his visions dazzles us like the revolving chromatic lights in the midst of the moving cloud, until the storm is spent, the cloud melts into space, and so much of the light remains as reveals the splendors of a city, temple, and commonwealth illumined with the unfading glory of an ever-present God” (Homiletic Commentary).

 

2. Very high mountain. The prophet was placed upon an eminent spot so that from a vantage point he might examine the details of the vision.

By which. Literally, “upon it.”

Frame of a city. The temple and its courts surrounded by walls gave the impression of a walled city (for the size see on v. 5).

 

3. A man. The being is not identified.

Line of flax. This would be used for large measurements (see ch. 47:3).

Measuring reed. See Rev. 11:1; 21:15. This would be used for smaller measurements (see on Eze. 40:5).

 

4. Declare all. The purpose of declaring all these intricate details was to acquaint the children of Israel with God’s glorious prospect for them. The delineation of these particulars was evidently intended to be a powerful inducement to the people to meet the necessary conditions. It provided the assurance that God’s thoughts toward them were thoughts of peace and not of evil (see Jer. 29:11). The exhibition of a complete blueprint showed them that God was serious regarding these intentions and would do His part if the people did theirs (see pp. 29, 30).

 

5. Cubit and an hand breadth. By reckoning the cubit at 17.5 in. (444.5 mm.) and adding a handbreadth (1/6 cu.), Ezekiel’s cubit would be 20.4 in. (518.6 mm.). The measuring reed would then be 10 ft. 21/2 in. long (3.12 m.) (see Vol. I, p. 165).

 

Breadth of the building. That is, the thickness of the wall surrounding the court. The wall is designated A on the temple plan on p. 716. This drawing is offered as an approximate representation of the building and courts (see note under Key).

 

The height and breadth of the wall are given here as equal. The length is here not given but appears to have been 500 cu. (about 850 ft. [259 m.], see on ch. 42:16) on each of its four sides. This wall was around the outside of the whole complex structure. It was not high (about 10 ft. [3 m.]), and people approaching to worship could easily see the temple in all its beauty and glory shining above the walls.

 

6. Gate which looketh. Verses 6–16 describe the east gate (p. 716, B), or gate building, which was the main gate, since it led directly toward the temple entrance. It is minutely described, inasmuch as the dimensions of the north and south outer gates (p. 716, F, G) are identical.

 

Stairs. The level of the gateway was higher than the level of the ground surrounding the temple enclosure. It is assumed that like the north and south gateways it had seven steps (see vs. )22, 26; see p. 716, a).

 

Threshold. The entry of the gate from the outside.

One reed broad. This is the same as the thickness of the enclosing walls (v. 5), that is, 6 cu.; the other dimension of this entry is 10 cu. (v. 11).

 

7. Little chamber. According to v. 10 there were three of these on each side of the central passageway. The rooms measured about 10 ft. (3.05 m.) square.

Within. Literally, “from the house,” that is, “toward the inside.” This is probably the threshold at the other end of the passageway of the gate structure, leading to the porch (v. 8).

 

8. Porch. Or, “vestibule” (RSV).

Of the gate. Many manuscripts and the ancient versions omit the passage beginning here and continuing into v. 9, “within, one reed. Then measured he the porch of the gate.” Those who accept the shorter text hold that there was one porch, or vestibule, in this gate. Those who accept the longer text hold that there were two vestibules. Therefore various drawings of the gate building differ in this respect. See p. 716, note under Key, on the uncertainty of architectural details.

 

9. Eight cubits. About 13 ft. 7 in. (4.3 m.). There is difference of opinion as to whether this was the measurement of the porch from east to west or from north to south.

Posts. Heb. elim, “pillars,” or “jambs” (RSV).

 

10. Little chambers. See on v. 7.

 

11. Entry. That is, the outer threshold.

 

The length of the gate. The dimension measured is uncertain. Some think it is the measurement of that part of the gateway that was roofed over, others that it was the center of the passageway between the side rooms, which was probably unroofed.

 

12. Space. Perhaps a fence before the guard chambers. It appears that there was some barrier 1 cu. out into the passageway in front of the guard chamber, so the sentinel could step out without hindrance and see up and down the hall.

 

13. From the roof. This measurement of 25 cu. (421/2 ft.; c. 13 m.) is across the gateway from north to south.

 

14. He made also posts. Some prefer to accept the reading of the LXX, “And the open space of the porch of the gate without, was twenty cubits to the chambers round about the gate.” It is possible that the elim (posts) could have been mistaken for the ulam (porch), although it is difficult to see how 20 could be substituted for 60. According to the reading of the Hebrew, the pillars, or pylons, would be of impressive height.

 

15. Fifty cubits. About 851/2 ft. (26.3 m.). The length of the gate building was twice its breadth (v. 13). One method of reconstruction allowing for one porch or vestibule (see on v. 8) arrives at the total length as follows: outer threshold, 6 cu.; three 6-cu. guard chambers, 18 cu.; two 5-cu. spaces, 10 cu.; inner threshold, 6 cu.; porch, 8 cu.; jambs, 2 cu., making the total, 50 cu. Other models allowing for two porches arrange these figures differently.

 

16. Narrow windows. Literally, “closed windows,” probably meaning latticed windows (see on 1 Kings 6:4). The exact position of these windows is not clear.

Palm trees. Similar decorations had been used in the carvings of Solomon’s Temple (1 Kings 6:29, 32).

 

17. Outward court. The temple has two courts, an inner and an outer (p. 716, R and C respectively).

A pavement. The pavement (p. 716, D) surrounded the outer court.

Thirty chambers. The size and position of these chambers (p. 716, E, E, E, E, E, E) is not given. From the point of view of symmetry there were probably ten on the three sides not occupied by the temple buildings. Whether they were constructed in blocks or as a single units is not indicated.

 

18. Over against the length. This pavement appears to have been as wide as the length of the gate buildings, about 50 cu. (ch. 40:15). From this would be subtracted the thickness of the outer wall of 6 cu. (v. 5), leaving a width for the pavement of about 44 cu.

Lower pavement. Probably so designated to distinguish it from that in the inner court, at a higher elevation (ch. 41:8).

 

19. An hundred cubits. About 200 ft. The measurement was from the inner entrance of the outer gate building to the outer entrance of the inner gate building (see vs. 23, 27).

 

20. Toward the north. Verses 20–22 describe the north gate (p. 716, F), which was exactly like the east gate (p. 716, B), already described (vs. 6–16), with the additional information that there were seven steps (p. 716, a) leading up to the gate (v. 22).

 

23. Gate of the inner court. One standing in the outer court (v. 17) near the north outer gate (p. 716, F) would see the north and east inner gates (I, H), each of which faced its corresponding north or east outer gates, respectively, across a 100 cu. (170 ft.; 51.8 m.) space.

 

24. Toward the south. Verses 24–27 describe the south gate (p. 716, G), which is identical with the east and north gates already described.

 

27. Gate in the inner court. The location of the south inner gate (p. 716, J) corresponds to that of the north and east gates.

 

28. The south gate. The three gates of the inner court (p. 716, H, I, J) are essentially the same as the outer gates. One difference is that the former had a flight of eight steps (p. 716, b) and the latter a flight of seven steps (p. 716, a).

 

31. Utter. An Old English word meaning “outer.”

 

32. Measured the gate. Verses 32–37 give a description of the east and north gates of the inner court, which were both exactly like the south gate.

 

38. Where they washed. The proximity of the present passage to the description of the north gate (vs. 35–37) has led some to the conclusion that the furnishings here described belonged to that gate. Others believe a new section is here introduced and that the east gate is under consideration (see vs. 40, 44; chs. 43:17; 46:1, 2).

 

39. Tables. Verses 39–41 describe the eight tables upon which the sacrificial victims were slain. For the possible location of these tables see on v. 40 (p. 716, c. c.).

 

40. The north gate. Some commentators take the word here translated “north” (in KJV and RSV) to mean “northward,” hence on the northward side of the east gate. Opinion varies as to whether these tables were meant to be at the north gate, the east gate, or all three gates.

 

43. Hooks. Heb. shephattayim, the meaning of which here is doubtful. The word is found only here and in Ps. 68, where it is translated “pots” in the KJV and “sheepfolds” in the RSV, but should be rendered “hearthstones” (see on Ps. 68:13), a meaning that is without significance here. The LXX renders shephattayim “borders.” “Hooks” is the reading of the Targums.

 

44. Chambers. The size and exact location of these chambers are unspecified. According to the LXX there were only two chambers, one at the north gate facing south, and the other at the south gate facing north. However, the Hebrew indicates that they were at the side of the north and east gates, and it is not necessary to correct “east” to “south” if these chambers were somewhere in the angels midway between the north and east and the east and south gates.

In the diagram on p. 716, P, P shows possible locations for these chambers consistent with the reading of the Hebrew.

 

46. Sons of Zadok. On the Zadokite priesthood see on 2 Sam. 8:17.

 

47. He measured the court. This was the court of the altar (p. 716, R), a square of 100 cu. (about 170 ft.; 51.8 m.), in the center of the inner court.

 

48. Porch of the house. Verses 48, 49 describe the dimensions of the vestibule of the temple (p. 716, M).

Post. Or, “pillar,” or “jamb” (see on v. 9). The measurement here is of the thickness of the two projections on either side of the entrance.

Three cubits. About 6 ft. 4 in. (1.9 m.). This is possibly the length of the projections on either side of the entrance.

 

49. Twenty cubits. Some take this measurement to be along the north-south axis of the porch, and suppose that the side chambers (ch. 41:6, 7) extend across the back as well as along the sides of the building. Others restrict the side chambers to the north and south sides and take the 20 cu. measurement of the porch to be along the east-west axis.

Eleven. The LXX reads “twelve.”

The steps. Like the two courts, the house itself was entered by steps. The number is given by the LXX as ten. The house was still higher in elevation than the inner court. See p. 716, d.

Pillars by the posts. Like Solomon’s Temple, this new building was to have a pillar on each side of the steps (p. 716, N, N; see 1 Kings 7:15–22).

 

CHAPTER 41

 

The measures, parts, chambers, and ornaments of the temple.

 

1. The temple. Here designating the holy place (p. 716, L; see 1 Kings 6:17; 7:50).

Posts. That is, the jambs. These were on either side of the entrance and were 6 cu. (10 ft. 21/2 in.; 3.1 m.) thick, the same as the walls (v. 5).

 

2. Sides of the door. This is the measurement from the door to the wall.

Forty cubits. These dimensions are identical with those of the holy place in Solomon’s Temple (1 Kings 6:2, 20), except that Ezekiel employed the long cubit (see on Eze. 40:5).

 

3. Then went he. The angel goes alone into the holy of holies (see Heb. 9:7).

 

Post. Or, “jamb,” of the door between the holy place and the most holy place, here only 2 cu. (3 ft. 4.8 in.; 1 m.) thick compared with 6 cu. (10 ft. 21/2 in.; 3.1 m.) at the entrance into the holy place (v. 1).

Door, six cubits. That is, the doorway, the clear space between the posts.

Breadth of the door. According to the LXX the 7-cu. measurement (about 14 ft.) is that of the length of the 2-cu. wall from the doorway to the side walls. Two of these walls plus the 6-cu. doorway would fit the width of the room.

 

4. Most holy place. A perfect 20-cu. square (p. 716, K), of the same dimensions as in Solomon’s Temple (1 Kings 6:20).

 

5. Wall of the house. The thickness here given (10 ft. 21/2 in.; 3.1 m.) is the same as that of the wall of the outer court (ch. 40:5). Such a thickness is in accord with the massive proportions of ancient Oriental architecture.

 

6. The side chambers. These chambers were constructed in much the same way as those in Solomon’s Temple. The breadth of 4 cu. evidently refers to the first-floor chambers.

 

7. Increased. For details concerning the recessed wall and the increasing dimensions of these chambers see on 1 Kings 6:5, 6. Since there is disagreement as to whether there were 30 rooms on each floor or 30 on all three floors, no partitions are indicated on the diagram (p. 716, f).

 

8. Height of the house. That is, the raised foundation upon which the house rested. This platform seems to have extended 5 cu. (81/2 ft.; 2.6 m.) beyond the outer wall of the chambers (vs. 9, 11), forming a walk outside the chambers (p. 716, e).

Great cubits. Heb. aṣṣilah, meaning “joint.” Its significance here is not clear. It is probably some architectural term.

 

9. The wall. The outer wall of the side chambers, a cubit less in thickness than the main load-bearing walls of the temple proper.

That which was left. See on v. 8.

 

10. Between the chambers. That is, the chambers described in ch. 42:1–14. There was an open space (p. 716, S) of 20 cu. (34 ft.; 10.4 m.) extending beyond the platform on the three sides on which the chambers were located.

 

11. Place that was left. That is, the platform.

 

12. Building. The purpose of this building (p. 716, O) is not given. It may correspond to the Parbar of the earlier Temple (see 1 Chron. 26:18).

Separate place. Heb. gizrah, from a root gazar, “to cut,” hence “a space cut off.” This was the space (p. 716, S) at the west end of the temple between the temple and the building (p. 716, O), and probably also the space along the north and south of the temple (see on v. 10).

 

13. The house. This is the outside measurement of the temple (170 ft.; 51.8 m.) including the porch (see vs. 1–5).

The building. The measurement here is the same, from the back wall of the temple to the outside of the west wall of the building O (p. 716).

 

14. The breadth. This measurement is the same, including the total width of the temple and the separate place on either side (p. 716, S, S).

 

15. Length of the building. This is the outside measurement of the building O, including its 5-cu. walls.

The galleries. The meaning of the Hebrew word thus translated is uncertain. The reading “galleries” is conjectural.

With the inner temple. Better, “and the inner temple.” What follows is a description of the temple itself, not of the building behind the temple.

 

16. Cieled with wood. The Hebrew here is somewhat vague. According to the LXX there is a description here of the paneling of the vestibule (see ch. 40:48), and of the holy and most holy places.

 

18. Cherubims and palm trees. Compare the artistic carvings in Solomon’s Temple (1 Kings 6:29).

 

20. Above the door. The paneling apparently covered the entire interior wall (see 1 Kings 6:18).

 

21. The posts. The Hebrew of this verse is obscure.

 

22. The altar of wood. This seems to correspond to the altar of incense in the tabernacle (Ex. 30:1–3) and the altar of gold in the former Temple (1 Kings 7:48), although the fact that it is also called “table” has led some to identify it with the table of shewbread.

 

23. Two doors. The one was at the entrance to the holy place and the other at the entrance to the most holy place.

 

24. Two turning leaves. The doors were similar to those in Solomon’s Temple (1 Kings 6:31–35).

 

25. Thick. Heb. ab, a word occurring only here and in 1 Kings 7:6. It appears to be an architectural term, the meaning of which is now lost.

 

26. Narrow windows. Probably better, “latticed windows” (see on 1 Kings 6:4).

CHAPTER 42

 

1 The chambers for the priests. 13 The use thereof. 19 The measures of the outward court.

 

1. Utter court. That is, “outer court” (see on ch. 40:17). Verses 1–14 describe chambers for the priests (p. 716, T, T) to the north and to the south of the temple. The Hebrew of this section is very obscure so that it is difficult to obtain a clear picture of the architectural details. For this reason no attempt has been made to show the exact form of the building in the diagram (see p. 716, note under Key).

 

2. Hundred cubits. About 170 ft. (51.9 m.). According to the LXX this is the measurement of the length of the building. The length is the same as that of the temple building (ch. 41:13). These chambers were apparently directly north and south of the temple building and separated from it by the separate place (p. 716, S).

 

3. Twenty cubits. About 34 ft. (10.4 m.). This is the width of the separate place (p. 716, S) that surrounded the temple on the north, west, and south (see on ch. 41:12). On “utter” see on v. 1.

The pavement. Facing the pavement (p. 716, D) said to belong to the outer court, along the inside of the outer wall (ch. 40:17).

Gallery. The meaning of the Hebrew word thus translated is uncertain.

In three stories. Heb. bashshelishim, which may also be translated, “In the third [story].” It is not clear whether the three stories are meant or only the top story.

 

4. A walk of ten cubits. The LXX reads, “And in front of the chambers was a walk ten cubits [17 ft.; 5.2 m.] in breadth, the length reaching to a hundred cubits [about 200 ft.; 61.5 m.].” This reading is supported by the Syriac.

 

5. Were shorter. The reason is that the galleries took up some of the space.

 

6. Pillars of the courts. It is not clear which pillars are referred to. The LXX has no word for “courts.” Some think the pillars apply to the 30 chambers (ch. 40:17).

 

7. Wall. The exact position of this wall is not clear. Some think that the outside wall of a shorter block of chambers (v. 8) is referred to.

 

8. Length of the chambers. Some take this to be the measurement of a shorter block of chambers (85 ft.; 25.9 m.) paralleling the longer block and separated from the longer block by the “walk” mentioned in v. 4. This has not been indicated on the diagram (p. 716) because the description is not full enough to clarify the details of the plan.

 

10. Toward the east. The LXX reads “toward the south” (cf. vs. 12, 13). Verses 10–12 seem to describe another chamber building at the south of the temple identical with the one on the north.

 

13. Shall eat. Verses 13, 14 describe the functions of these chambers. Under Levitical law the priests were required to eat certain portions of the sacrifices in “the holy place” (Lev. 10:12, 13; Num. 18:9, 10).

 

14. Lay their garments. These holy chambers served as dressing rooms for the priests.

 

15. Inner house. The term here refers to the temple area, presumably all that had thus far been measured. Ezekiel now returns to the outer east gate, from where the inspection of the temple area had begun (ch. 40:6).

 

16. Five hundred reeds. The LXX has no word for “reeds.” Presumably cubits are meant. Notice that the word “reeds” is supplied in v. 20, and that it does not appear in ch. 45:2. Further, the sum of the measurements of the gateways, courts, etc., is 500 cu. each way.

 

20. Wall. See on ch. 40:5.

 

CHAPTER 43

 

1 The returning of the glory of God into the temple. 7 The sin of Israel hindered God’s presence. 10 The prophet exhorteth them to repentance, and observation of the law of the house. 13 The measures, 18 and the ordinances of the altar.

 

1. To the gate. See on ch. 42:15.

 

2. Came from the way. The prophet had seen this glory depart through the east gate of the former Temple (chs. 10:18, 19; 11:1, 23).

Noise of many waters. Compare Rev. 1:15; 14:2; 19:6.

 

3. The vision which I saw. See chs. 1:4–28; 3:12, 23; 10:15, 22. The various revelations of God’s glory to the prophet have been characteristically similar.

Came to destroy. The earlier visions announced the destruction of Jerusalem.

 

5. Filled the house. Compare a similar event in connection with the previous sanctuaries (Ex. 40:34, 35; 1 Kings 8:10, 11).

 

6. I heard him. The voice was doubtless that of God. The speaking came from the house, while the “man” remained with the prophet in the inner court.

 

7. The place of my throne. In the Hebrew the emphatic position of the word translated “the place of” requires some such addition as “this is,” or “behold”: “This is the place of my throne,” etc.

 

By their whoredom. The former Temple had been defiled by idol worship within its very precincts (2 Kings 16:11–16; 21:4–7). Some think that literal harlotry is here referred to (2 Kings 23:7; cf. 1 Kings 14:24; 15:12).

 

Carcases of their kings. There is no historical evidence that any king was buried in the Temple area. A number were buried near the area in the southeast hill (see 1 Kings 2:10; 11:43; 22:50; etc.). The LXX gives the reading, “Or by the murders of their princes in the midst of them,” which may reflect the thought intended by the text.

 

8. The wall between. There was only a wall separating the Temple enclosure and the palace enclosure. There was no provision for an outer court as in the new plan (ch. 40:17, 20, 31, 34, 37).

 

9. Put away their whoredom. This was the indispensable prerequisite of Jehovah’s taking up His residence among the people.

 

10. Shew the house. When Israel would see a revelation of God’s love in the glorious plans for the new temple and for their re-establishment as a nation they would “be ashamed of their iniquities” and turn from them. God wanted them carefully to consider His pattern so that it might become to them the inducement to leave off their sinful ways and accept the new provisions.

 

11. If they be ashamed. If Israel showed any interest in the plans and evidenced a change of heart, the prophet was not only to reveal each detail of the plan but to “write it in their sight,” for them to keep.

The tabernacle, and later the Temple, was God’s dwelling place among His chosen people. The rebuilding of the Temple represented the restitution of His purpose to work through Israel for the salvation of the world (see pp. 26–30). If Israel was now “ashamed” of their past record of transgression to the extent that they would, as a nation, go forward with His purpose for them, all that Ezekiel foretold would certainly come to pass (see on Eze. 40:1).

 

12. This is the law. Compare the same formula in the underwriting and superscription of the Levitical laws of the priest code (see Lev. 6:9, 14; 7:1, 37; 11:46; 12:7; 13:59; 14:54; 15:32). The reference seems to be to all the preceding instruction.

 

13. The measures of the altar. Verses 13–17 give the description of the altar identified in v. 18 as the altar of burnt offerings. The same cubit is used as for the measurements of the building (see on ch. 40:5). The altar rested on a base 1 cu. (1 ft. 8 in.; 5 m.) high. On top of the base rested successive ledges, each 1 cu. smaller. The topmost ledge, the hearth, was 12 cu. (20 ft. 5 in.; 6.3 m.) square and 4 cu. (6 ft. 8 in.; 2 m.) high. The material from which it was made is not identified. The altar in Solomon’s Temple was made of brass, and was 20 cu. square and 10 cu. high (2 Chron. 4:1). That in the tabernacle was made of shittim wood overlaid with brass and was of considerably smaller dimensions, 5 cu. square and 3 cu. high (Ex. 27:1). According to the Mishnah the altar in Herod’s Temple rested on a base 32 cu. square and was made of unhewn stone.

The altar (p. 716, Q) stood before the temple in the center of the inner court. The altar had stairs (Eze. 43:17) unlike the former (see Ex. 20:26). They led up on the east side, probably so that the priest making the sacrifice would have his back to the rising sun, that there might be no suggestion of sun worship. For God’s abhorrence of sun worship see on Eze. 8:16.

 

18. Ordinances of the altar. Verses 18–27 describe the ceremonies to be performed in connection with the consecration of the altar. They are not the general regulations for the sacrificial worship later to be observed. The former sanctuaries also had special ceremonies of dedication before the altar was brought into ordinary use (Ex. 29:1–46; Lev. 8:11–33; 1 Kings 8:63–66; 2 Chron. 7:4–10).

 

19. Seed of Zadok. See on 2 Sam. 8:17.

 

ELLEN G. WHITE COMMENTS

 

2 EW 34, 285

CHAPTER 44

 

1 The east gate assigned only to the prince. 4 The priests reproved for polluting of the sanctuary. 9 Idolaters uncapable of the priest’s office. 15 The sons of Zadok are accepted thereto. 17 Ordinances for the priests.

 

1. Brought me back. That is, from the inner court (see ch. 43:5).

Gate of the outward sanctuary. Or, “the outer gate of the sanctuary” (RSV), here the entire enclosure. See p. 716, B.

 

2. Hath entered in by it. See ch. 43:4. Sanctified by the divine presence, the gate would not be used for the ordinary purpose of the entrance of the people.

 

3. The prince. That is, the civil ruler of the future kingdom. The rabbis referred this to the Messiah. But Jesus Christ could not be the prince here mentioned. The prince would offer a sin offering for himself (ch. 45:22), would have sons (ch. 46:16), and would worship by offering sacrifices (ch. 46:2).

 

To eat bread. Doubtless a reference to sacrificial meals such as were eaten with certain offerings (see Ex. 18:12; Lev. 7:15; Deut. 12:7, 18).

 

4. The north gate. Since this is described as “before the house,” that is, in front of it, the gate must have been the inner north gate (p. 716. I).

Glory of the Lord. See on ch. 43:2–5.

 

7. Strangers. Or, “foreigners.” The aliens living in Israel were allowed to take part in the Passover and other religious rites if they submitted to circumcision (Ex. 12:48). In certain circumstances they were allowed to offer sacrifices (Num. 15:14, 26, 29).

 

8. Not kept the charge. Instead of keeping the charge of the Temple as they had been appointed to do, the Levites had hired servants of aliens and had allowed them in the Temple court whether they were true worshipers of God or not (Joshua 9:27; Ezra 8:20; cf. Num. 16:40; Zech. 14:21).

 

9. No stranger. The precaution was designed to prevent the desecration of the temple of the future.

 

10. Levites. Verses 10–14 describe the official duties of the Levites in the new economy. Because of apostasy and idolatry the Levites would be degraded from the exalted privilege of ministering at the altar.

 

15. Sons of Zadok. On the historical background of the Zadokite priesthood see on 2 Sam. 8:17; cf. Eze. 40:46.

 

17. Linen garments. Compare Ex. 28:40–43; 39:27–29; Lev. 6:10.

 

19. Put off their garments. The priests were to wear their sacrificial robes only when engaged in the service of the temple. Special buildings (p. 716, T, T) were provided near the temple where they were to change their garments before and after ministering at the altar (ch. 42:13, 14).

 

20. Shave their heads. Compare Lev. 21:1–5; Deut. 14:1. It was the practice of the heathen Egyptians to shave their heads. This was probably one of the reasons for its prohibition for the priests of the Lord. They were not to let their hair grow long as the barbarians did, but to cut it and keep it orderly. Only while under the vow of the Nazirite had they been permitted to let it grow long (Num. 6:5; cf. Lev. 10:6; 21:10).

 

21. Wine. Compare Lev. 10:9; Jesephus Antiquities iii. 12. 2.

 

22. A widow. According to Levitical law a distinction was made between the marriage and mourning laws for the high priest and those for the ordinary priest. The ordinary priest could not marry a divorced woman (Lev. 21:7) but could, apparently, marry a widow, whereas the high priest could not marry a divorced woman, not even a widow, but only a virgin of Israel (Lev. 21:14). Here the ordinary priest’s marriage to a widow is restricted.

 

23. Teach my people. The priests were to be the teachers of the people so that the people might know the truth and be guarded against apostasy. Instruction is essential to Christian growth. There can be no real spiritual growth unless there is continual advancement in knowledge. Israel had earlier been “destroyed for lack of knowledge” (Hosea 4:6). This was not to be repeated in the restored economy. The individual Christian today receives such instruction through the study of the Word and through instructors of the Word. Each day he should add to his fund of spiritual knowledge, and act upon the new light. A change in heart is always accompanied by a clear conviction of Christian duty.

 

24. Stand in judgment. This had been their previous office under the earlier economy (Deut. 33:10).

 

25. Come at no dead. This regulation resembled the earlier one (see Lev. 21:1–3).

 

28. Their inheritance. The order of offerings again reflected the ancient law. On the meat, sin, and trespass offerings see Lev. 2:3; 6:25, 29; 7:6, 7; on the devoted field see Lev. 27:21; on the first fruits see Ex. 23:19; 34:26; Num. 18:13; Deut. 18:3, 4; on the special heave offerings see Num. 15:19–21; 18:19. The priests of the new temple were provided a place of residence in the “obligation,” or “holy portion of the land” (Eze. 45:1–5).

31. Dead of itself. Compare Lev. 17:15; 22:8; Deut. 14:21.

 

ELLEN G. WHITE COMMENTS

 

10 Ev 512

23, 24 1T 195

 

CHAPTER 45

1 The portion of land for the sanctuary, 6 for the city, 7 and for the prince. 9 Ordinances for the prince.

 

1. Divide by lot. The meaning seems to be, “divide by allotment.” Actually each tribe was assigned a definite portion (ch. 48:1–29).

An oblation. Heb. terumah, literally, “something lifted up,” here meaning “an offering,” “a present,” “a contribution.” A small part of this “holy portion of the land” was to be occupied by the sanctuary, the rest given to the priests and Levites. The terumah is further described in ch. 48:8–22.

Reeds. This word has been supplied. The question is as to whether “reeds” or “cubits” should be understood. If the former, the area could not be fitted between the Mediterranean and the Jordan. The length would be almost 50 mi. (80 km.). “Cubits” seems more reasonable and more in proportion to the tribal allotments.

Ten thousand. That would be 3.2 mi. (5.12 km.). The total area, as described in vs. 1–6, was 25,000 cubits (6.9 mi.; 11 km.) square. This was made up of three portions: 10,000 (ch. 48:13) at the north for the Levites; 10,000 (ch. 48:10) in the middle for the priests, in the midst of which was the sanctuary; and the remaining 5,000 (ch. 48:15) for “a profane place for the city, for dwelling, and for suburbs.”

 

2. Fifty cubits round about. The temple was situated in a 500 cu. square court (see on ch. 40:5). Here an additional strip of land 50 cu. wide (85 ft.; 25.9 m.) is left open around the outside wall as a further check against its profanation.

Suburbs. Literally, “an open space” (see on Num. 35:2).

 

3. Of this measure. See on v. 1.

 

4. For the priests. This verse describes the priests’ domain (see ch. 48:10).

 

5. The Levites. The domain of the Levites lay to the north of that of the priests and was to be of the same size (see ch. 48:13).

For twenty chambers. The LXX reads “cities to dwell in,” which appears to give the better sense.

 

6. Whole house of Israel. This portion, of the same length but only half as wide as the others, was to supply food for those who “serve the city” (ch. 48:18).

 

7. For the prince. The prince’s portion included all the land eastward and westward from the oblation, presumably to the Mediterranean on the west, and to the Jordan and Dead Sea on the east.

 

9. Take away your exactions. Verses 9, 10 are an exhortation to the princes to observe justice in their dealings.

 

11. One measure. Compare Lev. 19:35, 36; Deut. 25:13–15; Prov. 16:11; Hosea 12:7; Amos 8:5; Micah 6:10. The ephah was used for dry measures, the bath for the measurement of liquids. Here they are said to be the same capacity and each equal to one tenth of a homer. By modern equivalents an ephah or a bath would be about 5.81 U.S. gal. (see Vol. I, p. 167).

 

12. The shekel. Compare Ex. 30:13.

 

Maneh. A transliteration of the Heb. maneh. Elsewhere maneh is always translated “pound” (1 Kings 10:17; Ezra 2:69; Neh. 7:71, 72). A “maneh,” also called mina (see RSV), was 50 shekels (see Vol. I, pp. 164, 167, 168). The Hebrew here is obscure.

 

13. The oblation. Verses 13–15 describe the tax to be paid, presumably to the prince (see v. 16), who in turn would supply the required sacrificial offerings.

 

17. Prepare. Heb. aśah, here used in the sense of “provide”, “furnish.” The prince is made responsible for providing the offerings for the various festal sacrifices.

 

18. In the first month. Verse 18 to ch. 46:15 outline the sacrificial ritual to be followed on special occasions. There are changes from the Mosaic law. Neither Pentecost nor the Day of Atonement is mentioned. But it is quite idle to speculate, as some have done, that these ceremonial features were to be omitted altogether under the new ritual.

 

19. Take of the blood. Under the Mosaic law, on the Day of Atonement the blood of the sin offerings was sprinkled upon and before the mercy seat within the veil (Lev. 16:14, 15). Under the new ritual in connection with the ceremony of cleansing, blood was put upon the “posts of the house,” the “corners of the settle of the altar,” and “the posts of the gate.”

 

20. Simple. Heb. pethi, “inexperienced.”

 

21. The passover. The regulations concerning the observance of the Passover were similar to those under the Mosaic law, but with larger offerings (Ex. 12:6; Lev. 23:5–8; Num. 28:16–25).

 

25. In the seventh month. The reference is to the Feast of Tabernacles (Ex. 23:16; 34:22; Lev. 23:34; Deut. 16:13, 16). Some hold that the reason it is not so called is that the custom of living in booths was to be discontinued. The sacrifices are considerably less than those required under the Mosaic law (Num. 29:12–38).

 

CHAPTER 46

 

1 Ordinances for the prince in his worship, 9 and for the people. 16 An order for the prince’s inheritance. 19 The courts for boiling and baking.

 

1. Gate of the inner court. A special sanctity was attached to the east inner gate (p. 716, H). Compare the regulations concerning the east outer gate (ch. 44:1–3).

 

2. Post of the gate. This was probably the post at the inner or western end of the gate structure. From this point the prince could watch the priests prepare the offering, but he was not allowed to enter the inner court or to assist in offering the sacrifices.

 

3. At the door. The people who might be present on the sabbaths and new moons were to worship in the outer court near the inner gate. They could not enter the gate structure as could the prince, but were obliged to stay at the entrance.

 

4. In the sabbath. The sabbath offering that the prince is here commanded to offer is much larger than that required under the Mosaic law, which called for only two yearling lambs (Num. 28:9).

5. Meat offering. Or, “cereal offering” (see on Lev. 2:1).

 

6. New moon. Compare Num. 28:11–15. There is a decrease in the number of animals required.

 

7. Meat offering. See on Eze. 46:5. Compare Num. 28:11–15. There is a considerable increase in the requirements.

 

9. Solemn feasts. A unique arrangement is here prescribed for those present at the solemn feasts that all the males were expected to attend (Ex. 23:17; 34:23; Deut. 16:16). Probably to help secure order and possibly also to avoid their having to turn around, the people were instructed to come in either the north or south gate but to leave from the one opposite.

 

10. The midst of them. The meaning seems to be that on the yearly occasions the prince was to mingle with the people, joining them in their worship.

 

11. The solemnities. The proportions are the same as those laid down in vs. 5, 7; ch. 45:24.

 

12. Voluntary burnt offering. On freewill offerings under the Mosaic law see Lev. 7:16; 22:18, 21, 23; 23:38.

 

13. Every morning. There is a significant change in the daily burnt offering. Ezekiel mentions only the morning sacrifice, whereas under the Mosaic law one was offered both morning and evening (Num. 28:3–8). In either case the offering was to be a lamb, as before. The accompanying meat offering was to be slightly increased.

 

16. Give a gift. Verses 16–18 set forth regulations regarding lands held by the prince. He had two sections assigned him, one on either side of the oblation (ch. 45:7, 8).

 

17. Year of liberty. Doubtless the year of jubilee (Lev. 25:8–17).

 

19. There was a place. For the general location of the kitchens described in vs. 19, 20 see p. 716, U, U. The dimensions are not given.

 

21. Was a court. See p. 716, V, V, V, V.

 

22. Joined. The meaning of the Hebrew word thus translated is uncertain. For “courts joined” the LXX reads “a small court.”

 

23. Of building. These words are supplied. Perhaps masonry is meant.

 

24. Ministers of the house. Presumably the Levites.

 

Boil the sacrifice. That is, in preparation for the sacrificial meal.

 

CHAPTER 47

 

1 The vision of the holy waters. 6 The virtue of them. 13 The borders of the land. 22 The division of it by lot.

 

1. Door of the house. This is the door of the temple itself.

Waters issued out. What has been said with regard to the interpretation of the temple vision should be borne in mind here (see on ch. 40:1). The vision was a pictorial prophecy describing a literal economy. The presentation sets forth conditions as they might have been, and there seems to be little reason for departing far from the literal language. Whether the stream was fed miraculously or by a series of springs or other streams is not discussed by Ezekiel. His responsibility was simply to describe what he saw. The intent must have been reasonably plain to the Israelites. Abundant water, such as here portrayed, was the sign of adequate precipitation and resultant prosperity. Such blessings were further emphasized by the mention of the fruit trees and the teeming life in the waters (vs. 7–12).

 

Inasmuch as these predictions never were fulfilled in their original intent, they will have a measure of fulfillment in the Christian church. It is John the revelator who picks up the imagery of these chapters and explains what features of them will be fulfilled in the new earth (see, for example, Eze. 47:12; cf. Rev. 22:2).

 

Physical arrangements are frequently also designed to teach spiritual lessons. Here the stream, beginning in a small way, increased as it flowed out toward the desert. So the blessings of the covenant, of which the Israelites were the first recipients, were to flow out, ever increasing until they embraced the whole world. By the same figure the work of the Advent Movement may be illustrated (see 7T 171, 172).

 

If the stream was miraculously originated and increased, it would stand as a perpetual evidence of the power of an ever-present God working in behalf of His people. Such a demonstration would be similar to the presence of the pillar of fire and cloud that accompanied the Israelites in their wilderness wanderings (Ex. 13:21, 22) and of the miraculous supply of drinking water (Ex. 17:1–7; etc.).

 

2. The gate northward. Possibly because the east inner gate was reserved for the prince (ch. 46:1–8) and the east outer gate was closed (ch. 44:1, 2). On “utter gate” see on ch. 42:1.

 

3. Through the waters. The measurements described in vs. 3–6 graphically portray the phenomenal increase of the waters. At 4,000 cubits (1.1 mi.; 1.8 km.) the trickling stream had become a sizable river that could not be forded (v. 5).

 

7. Very many trees. Compare Rev. 22:2; see on Eze. 47:1.

 

8. Desert. Heb. arabah, the depression of the Jordan, the Dead Sea, and the valley extending from the Dead Sea to the Gulf of Aqabah. The modern term Arabah designates only the valley south of the Dead Sea.

The sea. The description here given makes clear that the Dead Sea is intended.

 

9. Shall live. Because of the high mineral content no fish are able to live in the Dead Sea. Doubtless this condition already existed in Ezekiel’s day.

 

10. En-gedi. Literally, “fountain of the kid.” The place is situated in the middle of the west coast of the Dead Sea (see on 1 Sam. 24:1). The site is now called Tell ej–Jurn.

En-eglaim. This word occurs only here and cannot be identified.

 

11. Marishes. Marshes.

Salt. Certain areas were not healed, probably to assure an adequate stock of the mineral.

 

12. Trees for meat. In its secondary application this forecast will meet its fulfillment in the tree of life in the midst of the new Eden of God (Rev. 22:2).

 

13. Twelve tribes. Some from each of the twelve tribes were expected to return from captivity. The promises were not limited to Judah and Benjamin, but were for all Israel.

Two portions. Compare Gen. 48:22; Joshua 17:14, 17. Levi’s portion was provided for in the “oblation” (Eze. 45:5, 6) and so the two portions for Joseph (Ephraim and Manasseh) made up the twelve portions.

 

14. One as well as another. Literally, “each as his brother,” a phrase meaning “equally.” Ezekiel defines precisely only the northern and southern boundaries of the land. Some have assumed that the various portions assigned to the tribes were strips of territory of more or less equal width, stretching clear across the country from east to west. This cannot be established.

Lifted up mine hand. An expression meaning, “to swear.” On the promise and the oath see Gen. 12:7; 17:8; 26:3; 28:13.

 

15. The border of the land. There are many similarities between the boundaries given here and those given in Num. 34:1–15. There, however, the southern boundary is given first, doubtless because the Israelites were coming from Egypt. Here the northern boundary may be given first because the people would be returning to Palestine from the north.

From the great sea. The boundary begins at the Mediterranean, but the exact point is not given. Judging from the other geographical points mentioned, the point was probably somewhere near what came to be known as Tripolis. Some begin the border near Tyre.

Hethlon. Mentioned only here and in ch. 48:1. Its location is not certain.

Zedad. This place has been identified with the modern Ṣadâd, about 58 mi. (92.8 km.) south by east from Hamath.

 

16. Hamath. A transportation of words permits us here to read, in harmony with the LXX, “entrance of Hamath, Zedad,” etc. The “entrance of Hamath” is thought to refer probably to the modern Lebweh, 70 mi. (112 km.) south-southwest of Hamath, or to the valley of the Orontes (see Num. 34:8).

Berothah. The site of this town is not known, though it is probably the same as Berothai (modern Bereitân), situated in the valley between the Lebanon and Anti-Lebanon mountains.

Sibraim. A border point whose exact site is not known.

Hazar-hatticon. Literally, “the middle village.” All that is known of the place is what can be learned from this passage, namely, that it was on the border of the district of Hauran.

Hauran. This designates the tract of land south of Damascus toward Gilead.

 

17. Hazar-enan. Possibly the modern Qaryatein, 20 mi. (32 km.) east-southeast of Zedad (see on v. 15) and 73 mi. (116.8 km.) northeast of Damascus.

 

18. The east side. It is difficult to draw this border with precision. Some of the territory east of the Sea of Chinnereth, or Galilee, was probably intended to be included.

 

19. Tamar. This place has not been definitely identified. It was probably near the southern end of the Dead Sea.

Kadesh. Called Kadesh-barnea in Num. 34:4. Some have identified it with ‘Ain Qudeirât, about 73 mi. (116.8 km.). southwest of Hebron, others with ‘Ain Qedeis, 5.3 mi. (8.5 km.) farther southeast.

The river. A comparison with Num. 34:5; Joshua 15:4, 47 shows that the reference is to the “river of Egypt,” identified with the modern torrent Wadi el–‘Arish, which enters the Mediterranean about 50 mi. southwest of Gaza.

 

20. The west side. The western boundary was the Mediterranean as in Num. 34:6.

 

22. By lot. See on ch. 45:1.

To the strangers. More freedom is allowed the strangers here than under the Mosaic law. According to the ancient law, strangers were to be treated with kindness (Ex. 22:21; Lev. 19:34; Deut. 1:16; 24:14), allowed to offer sacrifices (Lev. 17:8), to partake of the Passover if circumcised (Ex. 12:48), but it is doubtful that they held unrestricted property rights. Now those who settled permanently were to be given an inheritance in the tribe they dwelt in. It was God’s purpose that the strangers should be drawn to Israel, settle among them, and accept the religion of the true God (see pp. 28, 29).

 

ELLEN G. WHITE COMMENTS

1–23 7T 172

1 7T 171

8 7T 172

8–12 AA 13; 6T 227

CHAPTER 48

1, 23 The portions of the twelve tribes, 8 of the sanctuary, 15 of the city and suburbs, 21 and of the prince. 30 The dimensions and gates of the city.

1. Names of the tribes. Chapter 48 describes the distribution of the land and closes with a description of the size of the city and of its gates.

The distribution of the land (vs. 1–7) does not follow too closely that made under Joshua (Joshua 13–19). Age or maternal descent does not particularly seem to have been a guiding criterion. The central portion of the land was to be occupied by the “oblation” (Eze. 45:1–7). It was flanked by the two tribes, Judah and Benjamin, that remained faithful longer than the other ten. The the tribes of Reuben and Simeon, the two eldest, were placed next to them. Dan was put at the extreme north, where a part of the tribe had formerly lived. There seems to be no particular pattern for the placement of the rest of the tribes.

 

8. The offering. Or, “the oblation,” already described in ch. 45:1–7. On ch. 48:8–14 see on ch. 45:1–7.

 

15. Place for the city. The territory of the priests and of the Levites each measured 10,000 cubits from north to south, leaving 5,000 of the whole “oblation” to the south of the priest’s domain “for the city.”

 

16. The measures. The city was to occupy a square 4,500 cu. on each side, surrounded by an open space 250 cu. all around the outside (v. 17), making the whole area 5,000 cu. (1.6 mi.; 2.6 km.) square. This was the exact width of the space that was left on the south side of the oblation.

 

18. The residue. The two sections were 10,000 by 5,000 cu. each.

 

19. All the tribes. The inhabitants of Jerusalem had been largely from the tribes of Judah and Benjamin. In the new city, which was common property, all the tribes were to have a part.

 

21. For the prince. The strip of land remaining on the east and west of the “oblation” was for the prince. His territory from north to south extended for the same distance as the oblation. Eastward and westward, it bordered the oblation on one end and extended doubtless to the limits of the land on the other.

 

23. Rest of the tribes. Verses 23–29 describe the allotments of the remaining five tribes.

 

28. The border. See on ch. 47:19.

 

30. The goings out of the city. Verses 30–34 repeat the dimensions of the city so as to describe the three gates on each side. One gate is named for each tribe. Levi is assigned one gate, leaving only one for Joseph.

 

35. Eighteen thousand. The circumference of the city is 18,000 cu., about 5.8 mi. (9.3 km.). This does not include the “suburbs” mentioned in v. 17.

 

The city of the future, the New Jerusalem, which John saw coming down from God out of heaven (Rev. 21), shows striking similarities to the city of Ezekiel’s vision. Ezekiel describes the city that might have been; John, the one that will be. The figure of the nation of Israel, constituting God’s people and divided into 12 tribes, is carried through the Bible story. The New Jerusalem, whose inhabitants are redeemed from every nation, kindred, tongue, and people, is shown with the names of the 12 tribes inscribed upon its gates. In Bible figure the redeemed, no matter of what race, are represented as being assigned a place among one of the 12 tribes (Rom. 9–11; Gal. 3:29).

 

The picture of Israel in the land of Babylon, about to be delivered and restored to its own land, with the associated destruction of Babylon, forms the imagery for a large section of the book of Revelation. The figure is used to describe the Israel of God in their final struggles against the powers of evil, again termed Babylon, followed by the destruction of Babylon and the glorious deliverance of the church. See on Jer. 50:1.

 

The Lord is there. With these fitting words, by which the new city is designated, the prophet Ezekiel brings his prophetic messages to a close. It had fallen to his lot to announce the withdrawal of the divine presence because of the moral corruption of his people. It became his privilege also to announce the remedy for sin; and to declare, in vivid imagery, the glorious prospect of the future that might have been realized if Israel had accepted the divine remedy so graciously offered to them (see pp. 26–32).

 

Whether Ezekiel lived to see a few of his countrymen return under the beneficent decree of the Persian king cannot be known. Could he have known that his writings would be preserved in the Sacred Canon, he might have taken comfort in the prospect that some future generation would take hold of the message his fellow captives had despised.

 

The challenge is for us. The new Israel of God is about to enter a land far more glorious than that immediately offered to Ezekiel’s generation. Entrance, again, is based upon certain prerequisites. Already there has been a delay in complying wholeheartedly with the conditions. This time, however, there cannot be an indefinite postponement, for no longer is the restoration to be on a national basis. When the moment arrives, God will gather from all lands those who have made personal preparation. These will inherit the rich promises, and dwell in the city, prefigured in Ezekiel’s prophetic imagery, and divinely named, “The Lord is there” (Rev. 21; 22).

[1]

 



ch. chapter

v. verse

Heb. Hebrew

p. page

Vol. volume

pp. pages

in. inch, inches

cu. cubit, cubits

ft. foot, feet

m. meter, meters

vs. verses

RSV The Holy Bible. Revised Standard Version (New York, 1952)

c. circa, “about”

LXX Septuagint. A. Rahlfs, editor, Septuaginta (2 vols.; Stuttgart, 1935)

chs. chapters

KJV King James Version, 1611, formerly called the Authorized Version

d. died

T Testimonies, vol. 1 (2T, etc., for vols. 2 to 9)

cf. confer, “compare”

Mishnah The Mishnah, translated by Herbert Danby, London, 1954; also the Mishnah section of the Talmud as published in The Babylonian Talmud, Soncino, ed. (London, 1948-1952)

Q Qere, "to be read," the Hebrew form of a certain OT term as corrected by the Masoretes. See also K

mi. mile, miles

km. kilometer, kilometers

gal. gallon, gallons

[1]Nichol, Francis D.: The Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, Volume 4. Review and Herald Publishing Association, 1978; 2002, S. 712