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Bible Commentaries

Clarke's Commentary

Ezekiel 48

Verse 1

CHAPTER XLVIII

This chapter contains a description of the several portions of

the land belonging to each tribe, together with the portion

allotted to the sanctuary, city, suburb, and prince, 1-29;

as also the measure and gates of the new city, 30-35.

NOTES ON CHAP. XLVIII

Verse Ezekiel 48:1. Now these are the names of the tribes. — See the division mentioned Numbers 34:7-12, which casts much light upon this.

Verse 9

Verse Ezekiel 48:9. The oblation — This was a portion of land twenty-five thousand cubits in length, by ten thousand broad; in the centre of which was the temple, which must be destined for the use of the priests, the Levites, and the prince.

Verse 15

Verse Ezekiel 48:15. And the five thousand that are left — The territory of the Levites was twenty-five thousand square cubits, Ezekiel 48:20, But their city was only four thousand five hundred square cubits, see Ezekiel 48:13; Ezekiel 48:16; there remained, therefore, ten thousand cubits square to be divided, of which five thousand cubits in breadth, by twenty-five thousand in length, on the east and west sides, were reserved for a sort of second city; or for suburbs where laymen might dwell who were employed by those priests and Levites who lodged in the temple and in the city, Ezekiel 48:18. And another space of one thousand cubits in breadth, by twenty-five thousand in length, which extended only from north to south, was for fields and gardens appointed for the support of those lay servants. On which we may remark, there was no cultivated land between the portion of the Levites and that of the prince, but only on the east and west sides. See Ezekiel 45:6, and the map FF. Ezekiel 48:35.

Verse 21

Verse Ezekiel 48:21. And the residue - for the prince — His portion was alongside that of the Levites, from west to east; these were on each side twenty-five thousand cubits in length, from the east to the west. by twelve thousand five hundred cubits in breadth from north to south. The space both above and below was equal, between the tribe of Judah and that of Benjamin to north and south; and the portion of the Levites, which had Judah and Benjamin to the north and south, and the portion of the prince to the east and to the west. See the map.

Verse 28

Verse Ezekiel 48:28. From Tamar - in Kadesh — The former was on the south of the Dead Sea; and the latter, or Kadesh-Barnea, was still farther south, and at the extremity of the portion of Gad, which was the most southern tribe, as Dan was the most northern.

Verse 30

Verse Ezekiel 48:30. These are the goings out — Each of the four sides of the city was four thousand five hundred cubits long. There were three gates on each side, as mentioned below; and the whole circumference of the city was eighteen thousand cubits. See the map, plan B. dddd. Ezekiel 48:35.

The rector of New Haven College, in New England, supposes the preceding representations to refer to the happy state of the Church in what is called the Millennium. Leaving this period out of the question, the following observations are worthy of notice:-

"The Jews, for whom this vision was intended, would conceive their country to be divided to the twelve tribes, in lots of a regular and mathematical form; and not confused or intermixed, as in Joshua's time. Their city laid out larger than before; and exactly foursquare, with regular suburbs; the temple and appendages much more commodious for their sacrifices, and the habitations of the priests and Levites regularly formed round about the temple. So that this whole plan of the division of the country, laying out of the city, temple, and all the appendages, appears to be perfectly regular and uniform, as if it were drawn all at one time, and by one hand, who had power to effect it; and therefore conveyed to the Jews the most complete idea they were capable of conceiving of the most perfect church, commonwealth, city, temple, and conveniences, for Divine worship.

I. The Holy Land, as described Ezekiel 47:13-21 and Ezekiel 48:1-35 according to the original grant, being about two hundred and fifty miles long, north and south, and about one hundred and fifty miles wide, is divided, by parallel lines east and west, to the twelve tribes, each of them having a portion twenty miles wide. Only between Judah and Benjamin there is a holy portion near ten miles wide; in the middle of which is the holy oblation, twenty-five thousand cubits; that is, about ten miles square for the priests, Levites, city, and temple, Ezekiel 45:1; Ezekiel 48:8; the two ends are for the prince, Ezekiel 45:7, c.

II. The holy oblation, lying in the middle of the holy portion, is twenty-five thousand cubits square, which is near ten miles of which ten thousand cubits, or four miles, are taken off from the north side for a habitation for the priests, and as much for the Levites on the south side, Ezekiel 45:4-5, and Ezekiel 48:20; and five thousand cubits in the middle for the city portion, Ezekiel 45:6; in the middle of which is the city, four thousand five hundred cubits square, which is nearly two miles, Ezekiel 48:15-16. Round about this is left two hundred and fifty cubits, near thirty rods, for suburbs, Ezekiel 48:17. The remaining ten thousand cubits on the east side, and the ten thousand cubits on the west side, are for the profit of those who serve the city, out of all the tribes, Ezekiel 48:18-19. The sanctuary is in the midst o! the city, Ezekiel 48:8.

III. The sanctuary or temple, and its appendages, were entirely surrounded with a wall six cubits high and six cubits thick, Ezekiel 40:5; and five hundred cubits long on each side, Ezekiel 42:15, c., and Ezekiel 45:2. In the middle square stands the temple, which was surrounded by a wall one hundred cubits long on each side, Ezekiel 41:13, and six cubits thick, Ezekiel 41:8. The side-chambers on the outside four cubits, Ezekiel 41:5. The Holy of Holies, at the west end, was twenty cubits square on the inside, Ezekiel 41:4. The holy place or outer court at the east end, was forty cubits, Ezekiel 41:12. The length of the porch on the north side was twenty cubits the breadth was eleven cubits, Ezekiel 40:49; and the width of the separate place on the south side twenty cubits. On each side of the temple, towards the four gates in the outer wall, stood two courts, eight in the whole, each one hundred cubits square, Ezekiel 40:19; Ezekiel 40:23; Ezekiel 40:27. In each of these were thirty-six little chambers or buildings, about six cubits square, viz., six at the entrance of the gate, Ezekiel 40:7; Ezekiel 40:17; Ezekiel 40:20, &c., and thirty on the pavement, Ezekiel 40:17, &c., which were for lodgings for the priests, for hanging up their garments, and their part of the sacrifices, Ezekiel 42:13."

Calmet has constructed a map to show the position of the tribes, and the quantum of space each was to possess. As this will give a better view of the subject than any written description can, I have inserted one constructed for this work, which, consulting the places said to be connected with the possessions of the different tribes, shows that the tribes did not all possess the same quantum of space, five of the southern tribes possessing only one half as much as those of the north.

Verse 35

Verse Ezekiel 48:35. The name of the city from that day shall be, The Lord is there. — It would have been better to have retained the original words: -

This is an allusion to the shechinah, or symbol of the Divine Presence, which was in the first, but most certainly was not in the second temple; but Ezekiel tells us that the Divine Presence should be in the city of which he speaks; and should be there so fully and so powerfully, that it should give name to the city itself; and that the very name, Jehovah shammah, should remind all men of the supereminently glorious Being who had condescended to make this city his habitation.

Two points must be considered here: -

1. That the prophet intended that, when they should be restored, they should build the temple, and divide the land as he here directs, if the thing could be found to be practicable.

2. That he had another temple, another holy city, another Promised Land, in view. The land of Immanuel, the city of the New Jerusalem; and his temple, the Christian Church, which is the house of the living God, 1 Timothy 3:15, in which the presence of Christ shall ever be found; and all its inhabitants, all that believe on his name, shall be temples of the Holy Ghost. Nor can there be any reasonable doubt that the prophet here, by the Spirit of God, not only points out the return of the Israelites from the Babylonish captivity, and what was to befall them previously to the advent of Jesus Christ; but also the glorious spread of the Gospel in the earth, and the final conversion of the tribes of Israel by the preaching of that Gospel.

In conclusion, I think it necessary to state, that there are but few of the prophets of the Old Testament who have left a more valuable treasure to the Church of God than Ezekiel. It is true, he is in several places obscure; but there is a great proportion of the work that is in the highest degree edifying; and several portions that for the depth of the salvation predicted, and the accuracy and minuteness of the description, have nothing equal to them in the Old Testament Scriptures. On such portions, I have felt it my duty to be very particular, that I might be able to point out spiritual beauties and excellencies in this book which are beyond all praise; while I passed slightly over prophecies and symbols which I did not fully understand; but have left to time, by the fulfilment of the events, to prove to successive generations with what heavenly wisdom this much neglected prophet has spoken. And I take this opportunity to recommend this book to the serious perusal of every pious man; and while he wonders at the extent of the wisdom by which Ezekiel has fathomed the depth of so many Divine mysteries, let him give God the glory for this additional testimony to the unsearchable riches of Christ, and that plenary salvation which he has purchased for, and freely offers to, the vilest of the vile, and to the whole of the descendants of Adam.


- Number of verses, 1,273.

Middle verse, Ezekiel 26:1.

Masoretic sections, 29.

As I utterly despair of making the prophet's description of this temple intelligible without a plan, I have introduced one drawn up with great labour and skill by Dom. August. Calmet, where the measurements, distances, gates chambers, courts, inclosures, c., are all carefully entered as far as they could possibly be ascertained from Ezekiel's description which, it must be allowed, though wondrously circumstantial, is in several respects obscure. But by referring to the places, both in Kings and Chronicles, as well as in this prophet, where the same things are mentioned, this obscurity will be considerably diminished, if not entirely removed. At the same time, for a description of the temple in general, I beg leave to refer the reader to Ezekiel 48:1; Ezekiel 6:38, at the end, where this subject is considered at large.

[Let it be observed that the Hebrew cubit is]

[about twenty inches and a half.]


AAAA The first inclosure, or wall of six hundred cubits i.e., one thousand and twenty-five royal feet in length on each side, Ezekiel 45:2; and six cubits or ten feet three inches high, and as many in breadth, Ezekiel 40:5.

BBBB The court of the Gentiles, or first court fifty cubits in breadth, or eighty-five feet five inches, Ezekiel 40:2.

CCCC The outward wall of the court of Israel, or inclosure, five hundred cubits square, i.e. eight hundred and fifty-four feet two inches. This wall might be thirty cubits high, taken from the level of the threshold of the gate.

DDDD The court of Israel, one hundred cubits, or one hundred and seventy feet ten inches broad, Ezekiel 40:19.

EEEE The outer wall, or inclosure of the court of the priests, two hundred cubits, or three hundred and forty-one feet eight inches square, is supposed to be thirty cubits, or fifty-one feet three inches in height.

FFF The court of the priests, one hundred cubits, or one hundred and seventy feet ten inches square, Ezekiel 40:7; Ezekiel 41:14-15.

G The Sanctuary, or Holy of Holies, twenty cubits, or thirty-four feet two inches square, Ezekiel 41:4; 1 Kings 6:2.

H The holy place, forty cubits long by twenty broad, or sixty-eight feet two inches long by thirty-four feet two inches broad, Ezekiel 41:2, and 1 Kings 6:2.

I The vestibule or porch, twenty cubits in breadth, by ten (or according to Ezekiel, eleven) cubits in length, i.e., thirty-four feet two inches long by seventeen feet one inch broad, Ezekiel 40:48; 1 Kings 6:3.

K The altar of burnt-offerings, twelve cubits, or twenty feet six inches square, according to Ezekiel, Ezekiel 43:12-13, c., or ten cubits high by twenty broad, i.e., seventeen feet one inch high, and thirty-four feet two inches broad, according to 2 Chronicles 4:1.

LLL The wall of separation which encompassed the Temple, and the altar of burnt-offerings, of which the Scriptures do not give the dimensions. It was twenty cubits from the buildings in the court of the priests, and five from the Temple, Ezekiel 41:9-10. Josephus makes it three cubits high, Antiq. lib. viii. c. 2.

MMMMMM Gates of the court of Israel, and of the court of the priests, all of the same dimensions, Ezekiel 40:1; Ezekiel 40:22; Ezekiel 40:36. Each of the porches was fifty cubits long, i.e., eighty-five feet five inches (as much as the depth of the aisles, Ezekiel 40:15) and twenty-five cubits, or forty-two feet eight inches and a half in breadth in the opening, and sixty cubits high, i.e., one hundred and two feet six inches, Ezekiel 40:14. On each side of the porches there were three chambers, each six cubits square, Ezekiel 40:6. And the separations between the three chambers were five cubits in thickness, Ezekiel 40:6.

NNNNNNNN Galleries around the court of Israel, Ezekiel 40:5-38. I place there thirty pillars on a line of two hundred cubits in length, which is the same proportion as those given for one hundred cubits long, 1 Kings 7:2-4, for the court of the palace of Solomon.

OOOOOOOO Chambers or apartments round the court of Israel there were thirty on both sides of the gate, or fifteen on each side, Ezekiel 40:17.

PPPP The kitchens of the Temple, forty cubits, or sixty-eight feet four inches long by thirty cubits, or fifty-one feet three inches broad, Ezekiel 45:21-24.

Q The north gate of the court of the priests, where the victims were prepared, and where they slew the animals designed for sacrifice, Ezekiel 40:38; Ezekiel 40:39.

RRRR Galleries around the court of the priests, Ezekiel 42:3.

SSSSSS Apartments continued round the court of the priests. The aisle, which was to the south of the eastern gate, was for the priests employed as guards of the Temple, Ezekiel 40:45. The aisle on the north side of the said gate was appointed for the singers, Ezekiel 40:44; the aisle that was on the eastern side of the south gate was for the priests employed about the altar, Ezekiel 40:46; the aisles which were to the west of the north gate and of the south gate, contained the halls where the priests ate, Ezekiel 42:13.

TT The kitchens of the court of the priests were those where they dressed the trespass-offering, sin-offering, and the meat-offerings, forty cubits, or sixty-eight feet four inches long, and thirty cubits, or fifty-one feet five inches broad, Ezekiel 46:20. He speaks only of that on the north.

VVVV Flights of steps which led to the court of the people. In each flight there were seven steps, Ezekiel 40:22-26.

XXX Flights of steps which led to the court of the priests; in each there were eighty steps, Ezekiel 40:31; Ezekiel 40:34; Ezekiel 40:37.

YY A flight of steps which led to the porch of the Temple, eight steps in each, Ezekiel 40:49.

aaa Chambers about the Temple, thirty-three in number, Ezekiel makes them four cubits in breadth, Ezekiel 41:5; but in 1 Kings 6:5-6, they are stated to be five cubits in the lower stage, six in the second, and seven in the third.

bb Flights of steps opposite to the chambers, which were continued round the temple, Ezekiel 41:7, and 1 Kings 6:8.

c The steps of the altar of burnt-offerings turned toward the east, Ezekiel 43:15-16.

dddd Tables of hewn stone, which were in the portico of the north gate of the priests' court, where they slew, flayed, and cut up the victims. Each table was one and a half cubits square, Ezekiel 40:38; Ezekiel 40:39-41.

The great walls of the temple were all six cubits, or ten feet three inches thick. These walls were: 1. That which formed the first inclosure; 2. The wall of the court of Israel: 3. The wall of the court of the priests; and, 4. The walls of the Temple. But the outward wall of the thirty-three chambers, which were round the holy place and the sanctuary, was only five cubits broad, and fifteen high; i.e., eight feet six inches and a half in thickness, and twenty-five feet seven inches and a half in height, Ezekiel 41:9; Ezekiel 41:12.

All the gates of the two courts, that of Israel and that of the priests, are of the same dimensions. The wall where was the opening was six cubits, or ten feet three inches in thickness. The gate was eight cubits, or thirteen feet eight inches wide; and the opening of the gate was one cubit, and the gate was thirteen cubits, or twenty-two feet two inches and a half high, Ezekiel 40:9; Ezekiel 40:11.

The western gate of the Temple is not mentioned by Ezekiel, because, according to his plan, the king's palace was not to be near the temple; and consequently this gate, which was the gate of the king, did not exist. But this was not followed, as we find that, after the return from Babylon, there were gates on the western side of the Temple, according to Josephus; and before the captivity the western gate did most certainly exist, see Ezekiel 43:8; 2 Kings 11:6; 2 Kings 16:18; 1 Chronicles 9:24; 1 Chronicles 26:16; 1 Chronicles 26:18.

1. The gate of the porch of the holy place was fourteen cubits wide, i.e., twenty-three feet eleven inches, Ezekiel 40:48; 1 Kings 6:3.

2. The gate of the holy place was ten cubits, or seventeen feet one inch wide, Ezekiel 41:1-2.

3. The gate of the sanctuary was six cubits or ten feet three inches wide. The wall of the separation was only two cubits, Ezekiel 41:1; Ezekiel 41:3.

4. The east gate of the court of the priests was shut all the week, and was not opened but on the Sabbath and new moons, according to Ezekiel. It was there that the king had his seat, a sort of tribunal, Ezekiel 44:2-4; Ezekiel 46:1-2, c.

Calmet observes, with respect to his plan, that he assigns only two galleries to the apartments which were around the court of Israel but those which were around the court of the priests had three, Ezekiel 42:3; Ezekiel 42:5-6. There is another difference between the palace (atrium) of the court of the priests, and that of the court of Israel. The walls of the first were built with three rows of hewn stones and one of cedar alternately, 1 Kings 6:36; but this is not said to be the same in the structure of the outward court, or that of the people.

In the Old Testament we find no mention of the court of the Gentiles. Only two courts are mentioned there, one of the priests, the other of the people; one the inner, the other the outer court; but it is certain that such a court did exist, and is here marked BBBB.

The height of the aisles, or apartments that were around the two courts, is not mentioned any where in the Scriptures; but they are here fixed at thirty cubits; for the temple was not higher, neither was Solomon's palace. See 1 Kings 7:2.


A The Temple of the Lord, five hundred cubits square, Ezekiel 45:2.

BB The city of the Levites, four thousand five hundred cubits square, and eighteen thousand in compass, Ezekiel 48:16.

cccc Suburbs of the city of the Levites, two hundred and fifty cubits in breadth, Ezekiel 48:17.

dddd The twelve gates of the Levitical city, four on each side, Ezekiel 48:31-34.

EE City of the lay persons or workmen employed in the service of the priests and of the Levites, five thousand broad by twenty-five thousand cubits long, Ezekiel 45:6.

FF Cultivated ground for the maintenance of the lay artisans, Ezekiel 48:15.

GG Portion of the prince of Israel, twenty-five thousand cubits long by twelve thousand five hundred broad, Ezekiel 48:21.

The whole extent of the land from Kadesh-barnea south to Hethlon or Hamath north, was about two hundred and twenty miles, its mean breadth about one hundred.

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Bibliographical Information
Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on Ezekiel 48". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/acc/ezekiel-48.html. 1832.