INTRODUCTION TO EZEKIEL 40
This and the eight following chapters contain a vision of a city and temple herein described, and are thought to be the most difficult part of the whole Bible. The Jews forbid the reading of it till a man is arrived to thirty years of age; and then he must expect to meet with things in it he does not understand, and which must be left until Elijah comes to explain them. Many Christian commentators have omitted the exposition of these chapters; and all acknowledge the difficulties in them. Something however may be got out of them, relating to the Gospel, and Gospel church state, which I am fully persuaded is intended by the city and temple; for that no material building can be designed is clear from this one observation; that not only the whole land of Israel would not be capable of having such a city as is here described built upon it, but even all Europe would not be sufficient; nor the whole world, according to the account of the dimensions which some give of it. The circumference of the city is said to be about eighteen thousand measures, Ezekiel 48:35; but what they are is not certain. Luther makes them to be thirty six thousand German miles; and a German mile being three of ours, the circuit of this city must be above a hundred thousand English miles; and this is sufficient to set aside all hypotheses of a material building, either of city or temple, the one being in proportion to the other. The Jews dream of a third temple to be built, by their vainly expected Messiah; but nothing is more clear than that the true Messiah was to come into the second temple, and by that give it a greater glory than the former ever had; as is evident from Haggai 2:6 and, according to Malachi, he was to come suddenly into his temple, which could be no other than the then present one, Malachi 3:1, and into which Jesus came, and where he often appeared and taught, as well as entered into it with power and authority, as the Lord and proprietor of it; by which he appeared to be the true Messiah, as by many other characters; see Luke 2:22. There are some who think that Solomon's temple, as it was before it was destroyed by Nebuchadnezzar, and as it was rebuilt by Zerubbabel, is here described; and that partly to let the Jews know what a glory to their nation they lost by their sins; and partly that they might have a complete pattern for the rebuilding of it, as well as to comfort them under its present ruins; but there is no agreement between them. This temple was to be built at a distance from the city, several miles; according to some ten, others twenty, and by the best account twenty seven miles; see Ezekiel 45:1, whereas Solomon's temple, and that built by Zerubbabel, were in the city of Jerusalem: nor from either of these flowed waters, which rose up to a river, on the bank of which were many trees for food and medicine, and whose waters were healing, and quickened wherever they came, as from this, Ezekiel 47:1, nor do we ever read of the east gate of these temples always shut, as this, Ezekiel 44:2, and besides, both these temples were profaned and destroyed; whereas this shall never be, but God will dwell in it forever, Ezekiel 43:7, neither place, structure, nor worship, agree. Nor is this city here the same with the New Jerusalem John had a vision of; for though he borrows some of his expressions to describe it from hence; and in some things there is an appearance of agreement, as of the river of water of life, and the tree of life on both sides of the river, Revelation 22:1, yet the description agrees not, either with respect to its gates, or its compass; and though there was no temple in that John saw, as there was none in this, it being without the city; yet here is a temple in this vision, and the greatest part of it is taken up in the description of it. It remains that this must be understood mystically and figuratively of the Gospel church, which is often spoken of as a city and temple, Hebrews 12:22 and which began to have its accomplishment in the first times of the Gospel, immediately after the death and resurrection of Christ; when his disciples had a commission to preach the Gospel to all nations; and who accordingly did, even before the destruction of Jerusalem, and of the material temple, so that Gospel churches were planted in all parts of the world; and especially this was the case, when the Roman empire, called the whole world, became Christian: though the further and greater accomplishment of this vision will be in the latter day; when the earth shall be filled with the knowledge of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea; when Jews and Gentiles will be converted, and Gospel churches be set up everywhere; so that the Gospel church state, or kingdom of Christ, signified by the great mountain in Daniel 2:35, and by this large city here, will fill the whole earth: and the rather this may be thought to be the design of this vision to represent it, as it follows the prophecies of the Jews' settlement in their own land; and of the destruction of Gog, or the Turk, attempting to dispossess them; of which in chapters 37-39. In this chapter are first an account of the vision in general, the time, manner, and place of it, Ezekiel 40:1, a description of the person, the builder and owner of the house; and by whom the prophet is shown each of the parts and dimensions of it, whom he calls to him for that purpose, Ezekiel 40:3, and then a particular account is given, which begins with the outward wall around the house, Ezekiel 40:5, then the east gate, with its posts, porch, and chambers, and the outward court with its chambers, Ezekiel 40:6, then the gate of the outward court to the north, with its chambers, and the gate of the inner court over against that, Ezekiel 40:20, then the gate to the south, with its posts, arches, and chambers, Ezekiel 40:24, then the inner court to the east, its gate, chambers, and arches, Ezekiel 40:32, then the north gate, with its posts, chambers, and arches, Ezekiel 40:35, in the porch of which are the tables, on which the sacrifices are slain, Ezekiel 40:39, after which are described the chambers for the singers and the priests, Ezekiel 40:44, then the inner court and altar in it; and the chapter is concluded with the dimensions of the porch of the house, Ezekiel 40:48.
In the five and twentieth year of our captivity,.... That is, from Jeconiah's captivity, from whence this prophet begins his dates: he calls it our captivity, because he himself was then carried captive; and this was twenty years after his first vision; see Ezekiel 1:1,
in the beginning of the year, in the tenth day of the month; the Jews had two beginnings of their year, the one on civil accounts, which was in the autumnal equinox, in the month Tisri, which answers to part of our September; and if this is meant here, the tenth day of it was the day of atonement, in which the Jews were to afflict their souls; but on this day the prophet has a view of the Gospel church, which receives the atonement by the sacrifice of Christ: the other beginning of the year, which was on ecclesiastic accounts, was in the vernal equinox, the month Nisan, which answers to part of our March; and the tenth day of it was the day that the passover lamb was separated from the flock, and kept up till the fourteenth; the time between Christ's public entry into Jerusalem, and his being sacrificed as the passover for us. Some interpreters go one way, some the other: it is not easy to determine which is meant; though I think more probably the latter, since church affairs are chiefly here represented. This, according to the Talmudists
in the fourteenth year after that the city was smitten; taken, broken up, and destroyed by Nebuchadnezzar; its walls demolished; its houses burnt, and inhabitants put to the sword, or carried captive. This was in the eleventh year of Zedekiah's reign, to which add the fourteen years from hence and they make twenty five, as reckoned from Jeconiah's captivity:
in the self-same day the hand of the Lord was upon me, and brought me hither; that is, on the tenth day of the month, of the new year, begin when it will. The Spirit of the Lord, which is sometimes called the finger of God, and the power of God, this fell upon him, or was laid on him, and impressed his mind and soul; and he in a visionary way, as appears by what follows, was brought into, the land of Israel, and to Jerusalem, according as things were represented to his mind; though, as to his body, he was still in the land of Chaldea. The Targum interprets "the hand of the Lord" the spirit of prophecy; see Ezekiel 1:3.
In the visions of God brought he me into the land of Israel,.... Or by the spirit of prophecy, as the Targum again; that is, being under the impressions of the Spirit of God, it appeared to him, in a visionary way, as if he was really brought out of Chaldea, and set in the land of Israel; see Ezekiel 8:3, as John was carried away in the spirit to see the New Jerusalem, Revelation 21:10,
and set me upon a very high mountain; as John also was, that he might have a view of this large city and temple, which were to fill the whole world: thus Christ was taken up to an exceeding high mountain, to be shown the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them, Matthew 4:8, it is needless to inquire what this mountain was, whether Moriah, on which the temple was formerly built, or any other mountain near Jerusalem, since no material temple is exhibited to be built upon it; nor would such a mountain, especially Zion or Moriah, have been a proper place, if material temple at Jerusalem was here designed, which must have stood upon it; but this is visionary, as well as the city and temple; if it respects anything, it may the strength, the visibility, and exalted state of the church of Christ in the latter day; see Isaiah 2:2,
by, which was as the flame of a city on the south: the prophet in the vision, and as to his view of things coming from Babylon, which lay north of Judea, has a prospect of the south of the city and temple; and, first, there appeared to him, to the south of the mountain on which he stood, the plan of a city; or which was as one, for the city is not described till last; the description is of the temple first; and which for its wall, gates, courts, and towers, looked more like a city than a temple; nothing is more common than for the church of Christ to be compared to a city, especially as in the latter day; see Psalm 87:3.
And he brought me thither,.... Being brought into the land of Israel in vision, and to a high mountain in it, by which were as the frame of a city; he was from thence brought to the city or temple itself, which looked like one:
and, behold, a note of attention and admiration:
there was a man; one in human form; not a created angel, but the Messiah, the builder and owner of the city and temple, whom it was proper the prophet should first have a view of; and by whom he was to be made acquainted with the several parts and dimensions of those buildings: he is called a "man", not that he was a mere man, but the eternal God; or otherwise he would not have been fit to be the architect or builder of such a fabric; nor as yet was he really man, but is so called, because it was determined he should, and it was agreed by him that he would become man, and it was foretold as a certain thing; and besides, he often appeared in a human form before his incarnation, as he now did, being most suitable to the prophet, and making himself more familiar to him; as well as it was preludium of his future incarnation, and of what he be when this vision would be fulfilled:
whose appearance was like the appearance of brass; denoting the glory and splendour of his divine Person, being the brightness of his Father's glory; also the glory of his human nature, in his state of exaltation, and the glory of his office, as Mediator; and especially the glory and brightness he will appear in when this vision will take place, with which he shall enlighten the whole earth, and slay antichrist; see Revelation 18:1, also it may denote his purity and holiness in both his natures, divine and human; not only in the former, but in the latter, in which he is free from sin, original and actual; and even now from sin imputed, having made full satisfaction for it, without which he will appear when he comes a second time, Hebrews 9:28, this may likewise point at his great strength, as God, and man, and Mediator; who has made the world, and holds all creatures in being; who is the mighty Redeemer of his people; has bore their sins, and conquered their enemies; supports their persons; bears their burdens, and supplies them with strength: once more, it may intend his duration; who, though he was once dead, is alive, and lives for ever; his priesthood is unchangeable; his kingdom an everlasting one; and he the same yesterday, today, and for ever, and his years fail not:
with a line of flax in his hand, and a measuring reed: one in one hand, and the other in the other hand; the one to measure greater, the other lesser matters; and both signify the sacred Scriptures, the rule and measure of faith and practice; and to which, in the latter day, all will be reduced; the doctrines then preached will be quite agreeable to them; the ordinances will be administered as they were first delivered; the form, order, and discipline of the churches, will be according to the primitive pattern; there will be no deviation from it; see Zechariah 2:1,
and he stood in the gate; of the house or temple, as being Lord and proprietor of it; having the keys of it, to open and shut, let in and keep out, at his pleasure; see Hebrews 3:6 and as the guide of the prophet, to lead him into each of the courts and apartments, and give him the dimensions of them, that he might show them to the house of Israel, to be observed by them; and here, as Cocceius observes, he stands, invites and calls persons to come into his house, and partake of all the privileges and entertainments of it; see Proverbs 1:20, yea, here he stands, as being not so much the doorkeeper, as the door and gate itself; as he is the way to his Father, the gate that leads to eternal life, so the door into a Gospel church; see John 14:6.
And the man said unto me, Son of man,.... The glorious and illustrious Person before described, who appeared in a human form, spoke to the prophet, calling him "the Son of man", a title often bestowed upon him in this prophecy; and here used to put him in mind of his original and decent, and of his meanness and unworthiness; thereby teaching him humility, which is necessary in order to receive instruction, and learn the knowledge of divine things: and also he might use this free and familiar way of speaking, both to express his philanthropy or good will to men, and to take off all terror from the mind of the prophet at his appearance; that he might more diligently attend to what he should see and hear, which he next advises him to:
behold with thine eyes, and hear with thine ears; look with both eyes, and hear with both ears; that is, look wistfully, and hear attentively; for if persons only have a glance or superficial view of anything or hear in a careless and indifferent manner, what they see and hear will make little impression upon them; nor will they retain, but soon forget it, and be incapable of relating it unto others:
and set thy heart upon all that I shall show thee; let thy mind be intent upon it; thoroughly consider it, and ponder it within thy heart; let it engross all thy thoughts and affections; so it will be imprinted upon thy mind, and be remembered by thee; for, unless a man's heart is taken with what he sees and hears, it will soon be gone from him; and besides, these were things of great moment and importance, which were about to be shown the prophet: as Moses had the pattern of the tabernacle shown him in the mount; and as David had the pattern of the temple given him by the Spirit and in writing, which were both typical of the church; and as John had a view of the New Jerusalem; so the prophet here is shown the form and order of the Gospel church in the latter day:
for to the intent that I might show them unto thee art thou brought hither; this was the design of his being brought in a visionary way out of Chaldea into the land of Israel, that he might have a view of the fabric after described; and there it was highly proper that he should diligently view it, and listen attentively to everything that was said to him about it; and the rather, as he was to relate the whole to others, as follows:
declare all that thou seest to the house of Israel; to the people of Israel then in captivity; and to the church of God in every age, to whom this prophecy should come, and by whom it should be read; that the people of God in all succeeding times might know what will be the state and condition of the church of Christ in the latter day; and how far they now come short of Gospel order and discipline; see Ezekiel 43:10. It becomes the ministers of the word faithfully to declare what has been shown them, whether respecting doctrine or practice, even all things, and keep back nothing that may be profitable and useful.
And behold, a wall on the outside of the house round about,.... The first thing that presents itself to the view of the prophet, after the sight of the architect or chief builder, is a wall encompassing this strange and wondrous building; which was like the frame of a city, as before observed: this wall was five hundred reeds long, and five hundred broad; see Ezekiel 42:20, now this wall was both for separation and protection; that it was for separation is certain from Ezekiel 42:20, it was to separate between the sanctuary land the profane place; that is, between the church and the world: the people of God were always a distinct and separate people; they were so from eternity, are so in time, and will be so to all eternity; they were distinguished from others by the everlasting love, of God; by his eternal choice of them, and taking them into the covenant of his grace, in consequence of it; and by the redeeming grace of Christ, who has redeemed them out of every kindred, people, and nation; and by the efficacious grace of God, in the effectual calling, by which they are separated from the world, and become a distinct people from them; and so they will be in the resurrection morn, and in the day of judgment, and in heaven for evermore: and what separates and distinguishes them is not any native goodness in them, nor any good thing done by them; but the purpose and grace of God, like a wall built firm and sure; not upon the works of men, but the will of God; and is unalterable and eternal; a wall that can never be battered down: it is this by which the church is enclosed as a vineyard and garden, to which it is sometimes compared, because separate and distinct from the waste, common, and field of the world; as here to a building encompassed by a wall, and divided from it: the church of Christ in all ages does or should consist of persons gathered out of the world, separated from it by the grace of God; but in the latter day it will more visibly appear to consist of such: it will be openly distinguished from the world, by the purity of its doctrines; by the faithful administration of ordinances; strictness of its discipline, and by the holy lives of the members of it; these, by the grace of God, will be a wall of separation round about it, to keep out profane persons and things; moreover, a wail is for protection, preservation, and safety; and such a wall the Lord himself will be to his people; he will be round about them, on their side, and on every side of them: yea, a wall of fire to enlighten, warm, and comfort them, and to consume their enemies, Zechariah 2:5 he will be a wall about his church in his love to them, with which he encompasses them; and which is built, not on their loveliness, love, or obedience, but upon his sovereign will and pleasure; and the dimensions of which, its length, breadth, height, and depth, are unmeasurable: it is a wall impregnable; it can never be broken down, and secures from all enemies whatever; and so he will be in his power, by which his saints are kept as persons in a garrison, or any fortified place well walled about, and which is invincible; to which may be added salvation by Jesus Christ, which will be for the walls and bulwarks of the city and church of God in the latter day, to which belong the prophecies in Isaiah 26:1, which salvation flows from the love of God; is secured by his purpose; established in his covenant; wrought out by Christ, and is an everlasting one; and is the firm security and safety of his church and people now, hereafter, and to all eternity:
and in the man's hand a measuring reed of six cubits long by the cubit, and an hand breadth; as in Ezekiel 40:3 and this being the measure used in taking the dimensions of the whole building, it was proper it should be explained what it was, before they are taken, and the account given: it consisted of six cubits; but then as these differ, there being a common cubit, and a sacred or royal one, it was necessary it should be clearly pointed at, as it is; by observing that these cubits were to be understood of a cubit and a hand's breadth; the common cubit were eighteen inches, a foot and a half, or half a yard; and a hand's breadth were three inches; so that this measure consisted of three yards and a half. Some indeed are of opinion that the hand's breadth is to be added only to the six cubits, and not to each of them; but the text is clear and express that these cubits were by or according to a cubit and a hand's breadth. So the Targum paraphrases it,
"and in the man's hand measuring reeds, one of which was six cubits by a cubit, which is a cubit and a hand's breadth;'
and this is confirmed by what is said in Ezekiel 43:13,
the cubit is a cubit and a hand's breadth; to which may be added, that such was the royal cubit at Babylon, where Ezekiel now was, according to Herodotus
"the royal cubit is larger by three fingers than that which was usually measured with, or the common cubit;'
in this way Jarchi and Kimchi understand it; though they make the common cubit to be but five hands' breadth, or fifteen inches, and this six hands' breadth, or eighteen inches: what this mystically signifies; see Gill on Ezekiel 40:3,
so he measured the breadth of the building one reed, and the height one reed; not of the whole building of the house or temple, but of the wall before mentioned; the breadth or thickness of which was one reed, or three yards and a half; and the height of it was the same; denoting the great security, safe protection, and strong defence of the church of God.
Then came he unto the gate which looketh toward the east,.... Or, "whose face is the way to the east"
and went up the stairs thereof; or the steps unto it, which were seven; see Ezekiel 40:22 and so the Septuagint and Arabic versions express it here, and read, "seven steps"; according to Jarchi, there were twelve steps, which he takes from the Misnah
and measured the threshold of the gate, which was one reed broad; of the same measure. The Hebrew word
And every little chamber was one reed long, and one reed broad,.... The length and breadth were equal, three yards and a half long and broad; a perfect square. There were several of these little chambers or apartments in this building, at each of the gates, and in other places after mentioned; of these chambers which were in the gates of the courts; as there were also others, according to Kimchi, on the wall of the mountain of the house; Lipman
and between the little chambers were five cubits; not a wall five cubits thick, as the Targum; and so Jarchi and Kimchi interpret it
and the threshold of the gate by the porch of the gate within was one reed: or three yards and a half; this gate within was that which lay westward, and was nearer the temple; between which and the outer gate before mentioned was a porch, on both sides of which were little chambers; and the threshold or thresholds (one being put for both) were of the same dimensions with those of the thresholds of the other; and so point to the same things.
He measured also the porch of the gate within,
one reed. This was either the measure of the breadth of the porch between the opposite chambers on both sides; or rather of the length of that space, which was between the third little chamber and the last gate; and such a space must be supposed to be between the first gate and the first little chamber, which space were three yards and a half; which shows how spacious the churches of Christ will be, and how exactly measured.
Then measured he the porch of the gate, eight cubits,.... This could not be the length of the porch from gate to gate, or from east to west, as Lipman
and the posts thereof two cubits; these were columns or pillars placed on each side of the porch, or at the portal of the gate, of two cubits, or a yard and half a foot thick; which, added to the other eight cubits, made the entrance ten cubits, as in Ezekiel 40:11 what these posts, pillars, or columns signify, see on Ezekiel 40:14,
and the porch of the gate was inward; this was the porch of the inward gate; or this was the measure of the porch within the gate.
And the little chambers of the gate eastward,.... Where the man now was, and was measuring; and the like chambers there were in the other gates, and of the same measure; of which chambers See Gill on Ezekiel 40:7,
were three on this side, and three on that side; three on the right side of the porch to the north, and three on the left side of it to the south:
they three were of one measure; one reed, or three yards and a half square, as in Ezekiel 40:7.
and the posts had one measure on this side and on that side; on the right and left, north and south of the inward gate of the porch, which measure was two cubits, Ezekiel 40:9.
And he measured the breadth of the entry of the gate, ten cubits,.... Five yards, two feet and a half: this was the measure of the eastern gate, whether outward or inward; for they were both of a measure, as appears from the thresholds being alike:
and the length of the gate, thirteen cubits; that is, the height of it; it was seven yards and three inches high; a prodigious gate this! a fit emblem of our Lord Jesus Christ, as the open door, the gate of life, through which whoever enters shall be saved; and there is room for multitudes to enter.
The space also before the little chambers was one cubit on this side,.... Or, "a border"
and the space was one cubit on that side: a space or border of the same measure was to the front of the three little chambers on the south side of the porch: this may denote the Christian liberty of the members of Gospel churches; which they may use without any breach of piety towards God, or of charity one to another:
and the little chambers were six cubits on this side, and six cubits on that side; they were of the same measure, those on one side, as those of the other, even six cubits square; or one reed, which is the same; see Ezekiel 40:7; see Gill on Ezekiel 40:7.
He measured then the gate from the roof of one little chamber to the roof of another,.... That is, the whole porch, from the extreme part of the roof of one of the little chambers on the north side, to the extreme part of the roof of another of the little chambers on the south; of the roof of these chambers, and the spiritual meaning of it; see Gill on Ezekiel 40:7,
the breadth was five and twenty cubits; reckoning six cubits to one chamber on one side, and six to one chamber on the other side, which make twelve; and a cubit and a half to each back wall of the chambers on the north and south; or two cubits to the spaces before the chambers, and a cubit and a half to each of the caves of the chambers, which either way make fifteen cubits; and ten cubits the breadth of the gate; in all five and twenty cubits; or fourteen yards and three inches:
door against door; not the door of the outward gate against the door of the inward gate; nor the door of one of the little chambers at the east, to the door of another at the west, running lengthways, and so affording a sight quite through the temple; but the door of one of them on the north side over against the door of another on the south, they answering exactly to each other; which still more confirms the similarity and equality of Gospel churches; See Gill on Ezekiel 40:7.
He made also posts of threescore cubits,.... Jerom thinks, that between the outward wall which surrounded this building, and the building itself, these posts or pillars were placed for ornament, which took up the space of sixty cubits; but rather these design the posts or columns of the gate, which supported the arch over it, on which were rooms or stories, and these were sixty cubits high; for of their height is this measure to be understood. So the Targum,
"and he made posts, sixty cubits was their height;'
in the Targum, in the Polyglot Bible by Montanus, it is,
"and he made sixty posts, their height a cubit:'
and to this agree Jarchi and Kimchi; these were thirty five yards high, the height of the temple ordered to be built by Cyrus, Ezra 6:3. The man that measured is said to "make" these posts, he being the builder as well as the measurer of this edifice; and might be said to make these as, by measuring, he pointed out the size and proportion of them: these posts may design the true members of Gospel churches, such who are pillars in the house of God; of which see more on Ezekiel 40:16, compare the phrase of "making" these posts or pillars with Revelation 3:12,
even unto the post of the court round about the gate; that is, there was the same measure to every post or pillar in every court, at every gate round about; at the southern and northern gates, as at this eastern one; they were all exactly of the same measure as the posts in this; so Jarchi and Kimchi interpret it.
And from the face of the gate of the entrance,.... That is, from the outward gate as you went into the porch, and was to the east, so called from people's passing and repassing
unto the face of the porch of the inner gate; which opened at the other end of the porch, into the outward court, and was to the west: from gate to gate
were fifty cubits; as he measured the breadth of the porch before, Ezekiel 40:13, here the length; there were three chambers six cubits long, which made eighteen; and between each chamber were five cubits, which were ten cubits; and the space between the chambers and the gates at each end were six cubits each; Ezekiel 40:8, which make twelve more; and then allow ten cubits for the thickness of both walls of each gate, and there will be fifty cubits, or twenty nine yards and half a foot.
And there were narrow windows to the little chamber,.... The walls being sloped both within and without, that the light let in might be spread the more: as those "little chambers" signify the several congregated churches of Christ in the Gospel dispensation; See Gill on Ezekiel 40:7, so these windows design the word and ordinances therein administered, which are the means of letting light into them; see Song of Solomon 2:9, in attending on these, the light of God's countenance is enjoyed, which lies in the discoveries of his love; in the manifestations of himself; in his gracious presence, and in communion with him; than which nothing is more desirable or delightful: through these ordinances Christ the sun of righteousness shines in upon his people; he looks in at these windows, and shows himself through these lattices; he is seen through the glass of the Gospel; he is held forth in the ordinance of the supper; and by means thereof the souls of God's people are enlightened, comforted, and warmed: also in this way are communicated the illuminations of the Spirit, both at first conversion, and in after discoveries of the things freely given of God; of the doctrines of the Gospel; of the blessings of grace, and of the glories of heaven. The Gospel itself is a great and glorious light; and the ministers of it are the light of the world, and of the churches; and by the light being diffused through these little chambers, the churches, those who are in them see to walk on in Christ, as they have received him, and becoming his Gospel, and their profession of it; and also see to work, not for life, justification, and salvation, but to evidence their faith, and adorn their profession; to glorify God by their shining lights, and to cause others to glorify him; and by the whole, the light of joy, peace, and comfort, is transmitted to all the inhabitants of Zion. These windows are said to be "narrow", or "shut", or "closed"
And to their posts within the gate round about; that is, to the posts of the doors that led into these chambers, over the lintel of them, were windows to let in light to those that were entering them, as well as were in them; and so there were to all the chambers round about the porch on one side and the other, between the two gates:
and likewise to the arches; or "porches"
and the windows were round about inward; in all the chambers within the grand porch, on the north and south:
and upon each post were palm trees; that is, on every post, column, or pillar, belonging to the chambers; and very probably on all the other before mentioned, Ezekiel 40:9, these posts or pillars signify either the ministers of the Gospel; so called for their strength, being mighty in the Scriptures, able ministers of the New Testament, capable of retaining and defending the truths of the Gospel, and of bearing reproach and persecution for them, and also the infirmities of weak believers; and for their stability, being steadfast and immovable in the work and cause of Christ, and not to be taken off from it either by the frowns or flatteries of men; and for their usefulness, in supporting the cause and interest of the Redeemer, and the minds of weak Christians, as well as the glorious truths of the Gospel; and may with great propriety be called the pillar and ground of truth; see Proverbs 9:1, yea, all true believers, and proper members of the churches of Christ, are pillars there, and such as shall never go out, Revelation 3:12, the word
Then brought he me into the outward court,.... The divine and glorious Person in human form, having brought the prophet up to the eastern gate, and through it, and the porch that belonged to it, to the inner gate of it, which lay westward; and having measured that gate, its threshold, the porch, the posts or pillars, and little chambers in it; introduced him into a spacious piece of ground, that lay open to the air, and surrounded the whole building; and answers to the court of the Israelites in the temple, where they worshipped promiscuously, good and bad: and so may design the outward visible state of the Gospel church, consisting of good and bad, of wise and foolish virgins; like a field that has both wheat and tares in it; or a corn floor that has wheat and chaff upon it; which in the latter day will grow worse and worse, and be given to the Gentiles, Revelation 11:2 but shall be recovered again, and make a considerable part of this fabric; which represents the state of the church, and the outward administration of the word and ordinances in it, and the visible fellowship of the saints together in them.
And, lo, there were chambers; in the outward court, in various parts of it; which signify, as before, visible congregated churches, formed according to the order of the Gospel; in which the word is preached, ordinances administered, and saints have fellowship one with another. It is a different word here used from that in Ezekiel 40:7, and is by some rendered "cells, storehouses, treasuries"
And a pavement made for the court round about; as this court went round about the whole building, so there was a pavement upon it all around. The word
Thirty chambers were upon a pavement; according to some, fifteen on each side of the eastern gate, as you came out of it into the court; or rather, according to Cocceius's tables, these were all around the court, eight to the east, eight to the north, eight to the south, and six to the west; or, as Villalpandus, seven to the east and west each, and eight to the north and south apiece. This suggests that there will be visible congregated churches in the latter day in all parts of the world, east, west, north, and south; see Isaiah 43:5.
And the pavement by the sides of the gates over against the length of the gates was the lower pavement. That is, this pavement, which went along by every gate, and answered the length of them, and what appertained to them, east, west, north, and south, was either lower than the pavement in the inward court, adjoining to this, to which there was an ascent by steps; or the middle part of this pavement rose up in a convex form, and on all sides there was a declivity; by which means all filth was washed away, and it was kept clean, and always fit to walk on. This distinction of a higher and lower pavement, whether on one account or another, may point out; the one, the believer's walk by faith on Christ; and the other, his walk in the ordinances of Christ, and in all becoming conversation.
Then he measured the breadth from the fore front of the lower gate,.... That is, from the front of the inner eastern gate before mentioned, Ezekiel 40:7, called the lower gate, in respect of the gate opposite to it, which led into the inner court, to which there was an ascent of eight steps; and which the Targum calls the middle gate, because it lay between the eastern outward gate, and the gate of the inward court. Now there were from hence,
unto the fore front of the inner court without, an hundred cubits; to the outside of the gate was such a length, or fifty eight yards and one foot:
eastward and northward; as so it was from east to west, so from north to south, and from south to north; there was just the same distance from the gate that led into the outward court to that which led into the inward court, on all sides; see Ezekiel 40:23 a man may be a long while an outward court worshipper before he is an inward court worshipper; the passage through the one to the other is long.
And the gate of the outward court that looked toward the north,.... Or the north gate of this building: having finished the dimensions of the eastern gate, those of the north gate are taken:
he measured the length thereof, and the breadth thereof; as he had the eastern gate, and which were the same; and so of the south gate, Ezekiel 40:24, which denotes the uniformity in religion in the latter day, in the way of entrance into the churches, and in doctrine, discipline, worship, and ordinances.
And the little chambers thereof were three on this side, and three on that side,.... As in the eastern gate, and the measures the same, Ezekiel 40:7. Gospel churches in the latter day will be all on the same plan, and modelled according to the same pattern, and be in just the same order, one as another:
and the posts thereof, and the arches thereof, were after the same measure of the first gate; the eastern gate: believers will be all pillars in the church of God, and partakers of the same like precious faith:
the length thereof was fifty cubits, and the breadth five and twenty cubits; see Ezekiel 40:13.
And their windows, and their arches, and their palm trees, were after the measure of the gate that looked towards the east,.... Ezekiel 40:14, signifying that the light of the churches, their privileges, and flourishing condition, will be alike everywhere, as in one part of the world, so in another; see Isaiah 52:8,
and they went up unto it by seven steps; or stairs, Ezekiel 40:6, the number of them is not there mentioned as here, but the same in both; See Gill on Ezekiel 40:6,
and the arches thereof were before them; the steps; or "within" them, as the Septuagint; the steps led to the arches of the gate, or to the porch of it, which were more inward.
And the gate of the inward court was over against the gate toward the north, and toward the east,.... Or, "and as to the east"
and he measured from gate to gate an hundred cubits; from the north gate of the outward court to the north gate of the inward court; and it was exactly of the same distance from one another as on the left side; see Ezekiel 40:19.
After that he brought me toward the south,.... Having taken the dimensions of the east and north gates, the prophet was had on the south side of the building:
and behold a gate toward the south; that led to the southern part of this fabric, and to the outward court there, exactly like the other two; there was no difference in them, which raised the prophet's wonder and attention; for, as Lipman
and he measured the posts thereof, and the arches thereof, according, to these measures; the measures of the east and north gates, which were just alike; for these all signified but one gateway or door into the church below, into heaven above, or into the presence of God here and hereafter, which is Christ, John 14:6.
And there were windows in it, and in the arches thereof round about,.... That is, in the little chambers, though not expressed; and in the porches of them on each side, as you passed from the outer to the inner gate:
like those windows; that were in the chambers that were in the east and north gates, Ezekiel 40:7,
the length was fifty cubits, and the breadth five and twenty cubits; see Ezekiel 40:13.
And there were seven steps to go up to it,.... To the south gate, as there were to the east and north gates, Ezekiel 40:6,
and the arches thereof were before them; See Gill on Ezekiel 40:22,
and it had palm trees, one on this side, and another on that side, upon the posts thereof; that is, on the posts of this gate were palm trees, two on each post, one on one side, and the other on the other: this verse shows us how many palm trees were painted on the posts, and how they were disposed of; See Gill on Ezekiel 40:16.
And there was a gate in the inner court toward the south,.... Which answered to the gate of the outward court before mentioned:
and he measured from gate to gate toward the south an hundred cubits; from the gate of the inward court, to the gate of the outward court southward, were just the same dimensions as in the east and north gates, and between their respective ones, Ezekiel 40:19.
And he brought me to the inner court by the south gate,.... Having done with the outer court, east, north, and south, the prophet is brought into the inner court by the south gate, which was nearest to enter by. No mention is made of a western gate, there was one in Solomon's temple; for there were porters appointed westward by David, and fixed by Solomon, 1 Chronicles 9:24, but Josephus
And he measured the south gate according to these measures; the gate which led into the inner court; for the south gate, which led to the outward court, he had measured before, Ezekiel 40:21.
And the little chambers thereof, and the posts thereof, and the arches thereof, according to these measures,.... These were at the gate of the inner court; and so they stand in Cocceius's tables; and were of the same measure with the little chambers, posts, and arches, that were at the several outward gates before described; and design the churches and members of them as spiritual worshippers, who, besides the outward form, have the power of godliness:
and there were windows in it, and in the arches thereof round about; these are not said to be narrow, as the other; which perhaps may denote the greater and more increasing light of the churches, ministers, and members:
it was fifty cubits long, and five and twenty cubits broad: that is, the space or portico where these chambers were; and this was the same measure with that where the other chambers were, Ezekiel 40:13.
And the arches round about were five and twenty cubits long,.... That is, high; this was the height of them; these were the frontispiece of the gate to the inner court without, and faced the outward court, as appears by the following verse; these were a kind of portico over the eight steps to this gate after mentioned; they were fourteen yards and three inches high, from the bottom to the top of them:
and five cubits broad; two yards and a half, one foot and three inches; and which very probably were the breadth of the steps that came up to them: none of these arches were in the second temple, as Lipman
And the arches thereof were toward the outward court,.... And so not within the gate of the inward court, but on the outside of it, towards the outward court, at the front of the gate as you went in:
and palm trees were upon the posts thereof; of the gate, or of these arches or porticos; signifying that none should enter here but righteous persons; this is the gate of the righteous, Psalm 118:19; see Gill on Ezekiel 40:16;
and the going up to it had eight steps; one more than the ascent to the outward gates; some say eight more, and make these to be fifteen, answerable to the fifteen steps by which the Levites went up from the court of the women to the court of Israel
And he brought me into the inner court toward the east,.... Into that part of it which lay to the east, having gone through that which lay to the south:
and he measured the gate according to these measures; that is, the eastern gate of the inner court; for the eastern gate that led to the outward court he measured first, Ezekiel 40:6, and this was according to the measure of that, and of the rest.
And the little chambers thereof,.... These, and what follow in this verse, are exactly the same with those of the south gate of the inner court, Ezekiel 40:29.
And the arches thereof were toward the outward court,.... As those of the south gate, Ezekiel 40:31, and the palm trees on the posts, and the steps up to it, the same as there.
And he brought me to the north gate,.... That is, of the inner court, for he had measured before the north gate that led to the outward court, Ezekiel 40:20, and here the little chambers, posts, arches, and steps, in all things agree with those of the other gates: what were observed in it different from the rest, an account is given of it in the following verse.
And the chambers, and the entries thereof, were by the posts of the gates,.... Of the north gate; the plural for the singular; for not at the other gates, only at the north gate, were the sacrifices slain and washed; as under the law, only on the north side of the altar, Leviticus 1:11, now, by the posts of this gate, or at the entrance of it on one side,
stood a cell or chamber, and a door into it
where they washed the burnt offering; its legs and inwards, Leviticus 1:9, according to the law, there were lavers in Solomon's temple, to wash the sacrifices in, 2 Chronicles 4:6, but there was no such cell or chamber there for such a purpose as here: and as this refers to Gospel times, and to the church in the latter day, no legal sacrifice can be intended here, which are all abolished; but this must be mystically and spiritually understood, and designs no other than the sacrifice of Christ, a sweet smelling savour to God: that this kind of offering was typical of the sacrifice of Christ is clear from Hebrews 13:11, which whether of the herd, a bullock, represented Christ in his strength and laboriousness; or of the flock, and was either a sheep, an emblem of the innocence and patience of Christ; or a goat, which pointed him out as in the likeness of sinful flesh, traduced as a sinner, and made so by imputation; or of fowls, turtle doves, denoting his meekness and modesty; and all without spot or blemish signified the purity of his, nature and life; and these being burnt with fire were expressive of the pain and shame he endured when he bore our sins, and the wrath of God was poured on him as fire; the washing of the burnt offering denotes the purity of Christ's sacrifice, being offered up without spot. Some, as Polanus, have thought the ordinance of baptism is here designed, as the Lord's supper is by the tables next mentioned; and it is a note of Starchius upon the passage, that,
"he who is washed in the divine laver may be regaled with the heavenly feast.'
And in the porch of the gate were two tables on this side, and two tables on that side,.... This is still the north gate of the inward court, which had a porch that reached from the outward to the inner gate of it, in which were three little chambers on each side, Ezekiel 40:36, between each of which were a space of five cubits, Ezekiel 40:7, so that there were two such spaces on each side; and in these spaces, as Starckius well conjectures, these tables were placed, two on one side, and two on the other: the use of them was,
to slay thereon the burnt offering, and the sin offering, and the trespass offering; all typical of the sacrifice of Christ: concerning the "burnt offering", as such; see Gill on Ezekiel 40:38; and as for the "sin offering" and "trespass offering", which in the Hebrew language signify sin and guilt itself, they represented Christ, who had no sin in his nature, nor ever did any in his life, yet was made sin for his people; having all their sins laid upon him, with all that belong unto them, or are deserved by them: these were, the one for errors, strayings, and sins of ignorance; the other for known and wilful sins; and both show that Christ is a sacrifice for all sorts of sin, even for the most vile and enormous: now these tables were for those sacrifices to be slain upon them, or to be laid upon them, being slain; and signify in Gospel times the table of the Lord, 1 Corinthians 10:21 or the ordinance of the Lord's supper; in which there is not a reiteration, but a commemoration of the sacrifice of Christ; here he is evidently set forth as crucified and slain; his death as a sacrifice is shown, and held forth to the faith of the Lord's people, for their joy and comfort, Galatians 3:1.
And at the side without, as one goeth up to the entry of the north gate, were two tables,.... Or, "the door of the north gate"
and on the other side, which was at the porch of the gate, were two tables; there were two on one side of the gate, and two on the other, that is, the last gate of the porch, in all eight tables; four within the spaces between the little chambers in the porch, and four as you come out of it, on each side of the last gate.
Four tables were on this side, and four tables were on that side, by the side of the gate,.... These are the same tables repeated, to observe more diligently the situation and use of them; there were four on the right hand, two between the little chambers in the porch, and two on the outside of the inmost gate; and there were four on the left hand, two between the little chambers there, and two on the other side of the said gate:
eight tables, whereupon they slew their sacrifices; the four tables last mentioned were for the same use as the four first; See Gill on Ezekiel 40:39.
And the four tables were of hewn stone,.... These are either the same tables as before, the four that were on one side, and the four that were on the other; they were all made of hewn stone: in the second temple they were made of marble; so it is said in the Misnah
"the marble tables were between the pillars;'
and they were made of marble, as the commentators
for the burnt offering: and also for the sin offering, and for the trespass offering, though they are not mentioned:
of a cubit and an half long, and a cubit and an half broad; just a foursquare:
and one cubit high; these were the dimensions of each table:
whereupon also they laid the instruments wherewith they slew the burnt offering and the sacrifice: the knives with which they slew the creatures offered, and cut them to pieces, and the bowls and basins in which they received their blood; these were laid upon the tables, as the sacrifices were: and may signify, that in the ordinance of the Lord's supper are not only represented the sacrifice of Christ, but the means, instruments, causes, and occasion of it; the sins of his people, for which he was wounded and bruised in his body, and with which he was pierced in his soul; and here we may look on him whom we have thus pierced, and mourn; and yet rejoice that there is healing by his stripes, pardon by his blood, and atonement by his sacrifice.
And within were hooks, a hand broad, fastened round about,.... These, very probably, were fastened on the posts of the gate, near which were the washing room for the sacrifices, Ezekiel 40:38, on which they were hung, when they were flayed, or the skin took off: in the slaughter house in the second temple, to the north of the altar, there were eight low stone pillars, upon which were boards of cedar foursquare, and iron hooks were fixed in them; and there were three rows of them in each, on which they hung the sacrifices
And upon the tables was the flesh of the offering: here another word is used, and may design that part of the flesh of the sin offering that was eaten by the priest, Leviticus 6:25 so that these tables were feasting tables also; as the table of the Lord, or the ordinance of the Lord's supper, is a feast of fat things, a feast of love; a table where the flesh of Christ is laid, which is meat indeed, and only to be fed upon by those that are made kings and priests unto God. Now these tables being many show that there will be a large number of Gospel churches everywhere; and wherever they are there will be tables: the ordinance of the Lord's supper will be celebrated in the four parts of the world; at present it is chiefly in the northern part, and where these tables were seen in this vision.
And without the inner gate were the chambers of the singers,.... These singers are true believers in Christ, members of Gospel churches; whose duty and privilege it is to sing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs; which is a part of internal, spiritual, and evangelical worship, Ephesians 5:19, these are the spiritual harpers, that have harps in their hands, and make melody in their hearts, and are able to sing the songs of electing, redeeming, calling, pardoning, justifying, and adopting grace; these deservedly have a place in the churches of Christ, in the inward court, being inward court worshippers, even all such who sing with the spirit and the understanding; for these chambers were in the inward court: the prophet being brought through the inner northern gate, into the open space between the inward court, saw these chambers; for it follows,
in the inner court, which was at the side of the north gate; in that part of the court which lay near the north gate, where now the prophet and his guide were:
and their prospect was toward the south; that is, some of these chambers, one row of them, were by the side of the north gate, and these faced the south; north and south being opposite to each other:
one at the side of the east gate, having the prospect toward the north: another row of chambers for the singers was in that part of the inner court which was on the side of the east gate, on the north side of it, and so faced the north part of the court. The Septuagint version, if admitted, makes the sense of it more clear, but different,
"and he brought me into the inner court, and behold two chambers in the inner court; one at the back of the gate that looks to the north, bearing to the south; and one at the back of the gate to the south, looking to the north.'
And he said unto me,.... The illustrious Person that appeared in a human form, measuring the several parts of the temple, said to the prophet, as follows:
this chamber, whose prospect is toward the south; the row of chambers that were on the side of the north gate, facing the south:
is for the priests, the keepers of the charge of the house; that observe the keeping of it; observe all the laws and ordinances of God's house, and are careful that the worship of God may be maintained and preserved, to his glory, and their mutual edification: and which is, or should be, the concern, not of ministers only, but of all true believers, who are priests unto God; that present their bodies and souls before him, as a holy, living, and acceptable sacrifice, which is their reasonable service; and offer up the spiritual sacrifices of prayer and praise to him, through Christ, Revelation 1:6.
And the chamber whose prospect is towards the north,.... The row of chambers on the side of the east gate; that side of it that was towards the north, and which the chambers in it faced:
is for the priests, the keepers of the charge of the altar; the ministers of the Gospel, that take care of the altar, of public worship; that preach the Gospel, and administer ordinances; and who are to be taken care of themselves, and live of the Gospel, and have everything provided for them that is necessary, 1 Corinthians 9:13,
these are the sons of Zadok, among the sons of Levi; these Levites, or priests, were of the family of Zadok; who descended from Aaron, and was the eldest house of Aaron, to whom the priesthood belonged; though it had been usurped a long time by the family of Ithamar; but, in Solomon's time, Abiathar, of that family, was dispossessed of it, and Zadok was placed in his stead, whose name signifies "just", or righteous; and was a type of Christ, the holy and just One, whose spiritual children and offspring are here meant:
which come near to the Lord to minister unto him; both preachers and people, who have near access to God through Christ, and minister before him in holy things, in praying, preaching, administering ordinances, and attending on the same.
So he measured the court,.... The inward court, where the prophet and his guide now were; and the gates leading to which he had been measuring, with the chambers, arches, and tables belonging thereunto:
an hundred cubits long, and an hundred cubits broad, foursquare; the floor, or area of this court, which was a hundred cubits in length and breadth; so that it was a perfect square, equilateral, east, west, north, and south, and above fifty yards each way; such a court as never was in any temple whatever: hence Kimchi observes, there was no such court in the second temple; no, nor in the first neither: in the second temple, the length of the court of Israel, according to Abarbinel, was a hundred and thirty five cubits, and the breadth eleven, but this was a hundred by a hundred; these things, says Lipman
and the altar that was before the house; the altar of burnt offering, which stood before the house or temple, in the midst of the inward court; so that it might be seen by all in the inward court and chambers; and even by all in the outward court, through the several gates, which directly opened and led to it. This was typical of Christ, the altar, we Christians have a right to eat of; which sanctifies every gift offered upon it, and which every worshipper should by faith look unto for the expiation of their sins. The dimensions of this altar were now taken, and are given in Ezekiel 43:13.
And he brought me to the porch of the house,.... Having passed through the inner court, and measured that, he came to the body of the fabric, the principal part of it, the house or temple; to the porch that led into it. Here of right a new chapter should begin, for this and the next verse more properly "belong" to the following chapter. This porch was a large roof, and was a covering both from cold winds and storms, and from the scorching heat of the sun; and was an emblem of Christ, the hiding place from the wind, and the covert from the tempest of divine justice and vengeance, and the wrath of God; and from the heat of a fiery law, of Satan's fiery darts or temptations, and of the persecutions of men: it was also, as is thought, a place for the priests to pray in, before they went into the temple; as Christ is the way in which the priests of the Lord go unto him, and pray before him; in whose name, and for whose righteousness sake, they present their supplications to him.
And measured each post of the porch, five cubits on this side, and five cubits on that side; these posts stood, one on the north side of the porch, and the other on the south, and were each five cubits thick:
and the breadth of the gate was three cubits on this side, and three cubits on that side; this gate signifies Christ, the door, or gate, or way of entrance into the spiritual temple the church, John 10:1 and it had two leaves, that on the north was three cubits broad, and that on the south was of the same measure: this two leaved gate may show, that both Jews and Gentiles, being converted, may enter into the Gospel church; as they will in the latter day, when the Jews shall be called, and the fulness of the Gentiles brought in; here will be an open door set; the gate will be wide enough to let them all in, Revelation 3:8.
The length of the porch was twenty cubits,.... From east to west; from the first gate of it to the last; which led directly into the house, or temple:
and the breadth eleven cubits; which may be thus accounted for; two cubits apiece being allowed for each post, and three for each leaf of the door that were hung upon them, and one for the upright post in the middle on which they shut; in all eleven:
and he brought me by the steps whereby they went up to it; as there was an ascent of seven steps to the several gates that led into the outward court; and another of eight steps, which led from that to the gates of the inner court; so there was an ascent from the inner court to the porch of the house, or temple; but how many steps there were is not said. The Septuagint and Arabic versions read ten steps; and the Vulgate Latin version eight steps. According to the Misnah
And there were pillars by the posts, one on this side, and another on that side; one on the north side, and the other on the south, somewhat like the two pillars of Jachin and Boaz, in Solomon's temple; which some apply to the ordinances of the Gospel saints partake of at their entrance into the Gospel church; but rather they are an emblem of Christ, the supporter of his church, and of all those that aright enter into it; and who, through his grace and strength, become pillars there also, Revelation 3:12, he is their Jachin, who establishes them on himself, the sure foundation; and their Boaz, in whom their strength is, and from whom they have it to exercise grace, discharge duty, and persevere to the end.
The New John Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible Modernised and adapted for the computer by Larry Pierce of Online Bible. All Rights Reserved, Larry Pierce, Winterbourne, Ontario.
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Gill, John. "Commentary on Ezekiel 40". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". https://www.studylight.org/
the First Week after Epiphany