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Bible Commentaries
Ezekiel 48

Dr. Constable's Expository NotesConstable's Expository Notes

Verses 1-7

Tribal allotments in the north 48:1-7

The tribe of Dan was to receive the northernmost section of the Promised Land. The order of tribes from north to south, north of the sacred district, was Dan, Asher, Naphtali, Manasseh, Ephraim, Reuben and Judah-seven tribal allotments of equal size (Ezekiel 47:14). Since they will be of equal size, and since the east-west width of the Promised Land would vary depending on the latitude of each allotment, it seems that the north-south distance would also vary somewhat.

The order of these tribes does not conform to any other in Scripture. These tribal allotments are not like those that Joshua assigned nor are they as large (cf. Joshua 14-22). There is a general progression from the most unfaithful tribe, Dan, to the most faithful, Judah. Judah, from which Messiah came, receives the blessing of being adjacent to the holy allotment. The tribes that descended from Jacob’s concubines (Dan, Asher, Naphtali, and Gad) receive land to the far north and far south. Those that descended from Jacob’s wives receive land toward the center of the land (cf. Genesis 35:23-26).

Verse 8

South of Judah’s portion would be a special territory, which would be the same size as the other tribal allotments.

Verses 8-12

It would include a section 25,000 cubits (about 8.3 miles) wide, and the temple sanctuary would stand in its center. This portion would be 25,000 cubits long, from east to west, and 10,000 cubits (about 3.3 miles) wide, from north to south. It would be for the descendants of the Zadokite priests who remained faithful to the Lord. This would be a most holy place next to the territory for the other Levitical priests. [Note: See a diagram of this holy allotment within the sacred district above (near my comments on 45:2-4).]

Verses 8-22

The holy allotment 48:8-22

Verses 13-14

The other Levitical priests would have an allotment the same size next to the allotment of the Zadokite priests. They were not to sell or exchange any of this land for other land because it was holy to the Lord.

Verses 15-19

The remaining portion of this allotment, a section 25,000 cubits (about 8.3 miles) wide by 5,000 cubits (about 1.7 miles) north to south, would be for the holy city and the open spaces beside it. The city itself would occupy the central portion of this section. It would be for the common use of the Israelites, as would be its open spaces and home sites. The city itself would be 4,500 cubits (about 1.5 miles) square with a 250 cubit (416 feet 8 inches) open space border on each of its four sides, another green belt like the one around the temple complex (cf. Ezekiel 45:2). The 10,000 cubit-wide (3.3 miles) areas on the east and west sides of the city would also be for the production of food for those who lived in the city. Those who lived in the city, from all the tribes of Israel, would cultivate those fields.

"Whereas cities have always been known as places of moral corruption and rebellion, this city will be a place of eternal [millennial] rest, refuge, and personal fellowship with others and God (Ezekiel 48:8-20; Ezekiel 48:30-35)." [Note: L. Cooper, p. 421.]

Verse 20

The total holy allotment would be 25,000 cubits (8.3 miles) square including the city and its adjacent lands as well as the territories for the Levites and Zadokites. This is an area of almost 70 square miles.

Verses 21-22

The prince would receive the rest of this allotment, on the east and west sides of this square and between the boundaries of the tribes of Judah on the north and Benjamin on the south.

Verses 23-29

Tribal allotments in the south 48:23-29

The tribal allotments south of this special territory would fall to Benjamin, Simeon, Issachar, Zebulun, and Gad. This was the total land to be divided by lot and the tribes’ individual portions.

The tribe of Benjamin received land next to the holy allotment, possibly because Benjamin was one of Rachel’s sons or because the Benjamites supported David (cf. 2 Samuel 19:16-17) and allied with Judah to form the Southern Kingdom.

Verses 30-34

The Lord next specified the gates of the holy city. Though Ezekiel did not name the city, Zechariah did. It is Jerusalem (Zechariah 14:8). On each of its 4,500 cubit-long (1.5 miles) sides there would be three gates. The ones facing north would be named in honor of the tribes of Reuben (Jacob’s firstborn), Judah (the kingly tribe), and Levi (the priestly tribe). All three of these patriarchs were Leah’s sons. The gates on the east would bear the names of Joseph and Benjamin (Rachel’s sons), and Dan (a son of Bilhah). The south gates would honor Simeon, Issachar, and Zebulun (Leah’s other three sons). The west gates would bear the names of Gad, Asher, and Naphtali (all sons of the two handmaids, Zilpah and Bilhah). The many gates demonstrate the accessibility of the city.

The New Jerusalem in the eternal state will also have three gates on each of its four sides each named for one of the 12 sons of Jacob (Revelation 21:12-13). That city will also be square, but it will be a cube or pyramid (Revelation 21:16). Also it will be very much larger (1,500 miles on each side, Revelation 21:16-17). Thus it seems that the eternal city will be similar to but not identical with the millennial city.

Verses 30-35

The city, its gates, and its name 48:30-35

Verse 35

The circumference of the city proper would be 18,000 cubits, less than six miles. And its name from the day of its establishment would be "The LORD is there" (Heb. Yahweh shammah). The new name would indicate a new character, as always in Scripture, namely, that the Lord would forever reside among His people (cf. Ezekiel 11:20; Ezekiel 37:23; Ezekiel 37:27; Genesis 17:8; Isaiah 7:14; Jeremiah 24:7; Jeremiah 32:38; Zechariah 8:8). He would never again depart from them or send them out of His land. He would forever dwell among them, and they would forever enjoy the unbroken fellowship with God that He intended since the creation of the world. The Book of Ezekiel ends with a description of a New Jerusalem like Isaiah 65-66 and the Book of Revelation, though the New Jerusalem of Ezekiel is millennial and the New Jerusalem at the end of Revelation is eternal.

Twenty-two years and 48 chapters earlier Ezekiel began his book with a vision of a storm picturing the destruction of Old Jerusalem and, later (chs. 10-11), God’s departure from it. He ended it with another vision of the establishment of New Jerusalem and God’s permanent residence in it. The glory of the Lord is the unifying feature that ties the book together and runs through it from beginning to end.

"Ezekiel begins and ends with God. Between the great vision of God in ch. 1 and these closing words, ’The LORD is there,’ is the unsparing record of man’s failure and sin, judged by God. But His judgment works to His glory, and the book ends with the one thing that makes heaven what it is, the Presence of the LORD." [Note: The New Scofield . . ., p.895.]

Bibliographical Information
Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on Ezekiel 48". "Dr. Constable's Expository Notes". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/dcc/ezekiel-48.html. 2012.
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