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The New Kingdom of God - Ezekiel 40-48
The last nine chapters of Ezekiel contain a magnificent vision, in which the prophet, being transported in an ecstatic state into the land of Israel, is shown the new temple and the new organization of the service of God, together with the new division of Canaan among the tribes of Israel, who have been brought back from among the nations. This last section of our book, which is perfectly rounded off in itself, is indeed sharply distinguished by its form from the preceding prophecies; but it is closely connected with them so far as the contents are concerned, and forms the second half of the entire book, in which the announcement of salvation for Israel is brought to its full completion, and a panoramic vision displays the realization of the salvation promised. This announcement (Ezekiel 34-37) commenced with the promise that the Lord would bring back all Israel from its dispersion into the land of Canaan given to the fathers, and would cause it to dwell there as a people renewed by His Spirit and walking in His commandments; and closed with the assurance that He would make an eternal covenant of peace with His restored people, place His sanctuary in the midst of them, and there dwell above them as their God for ever (Ezekiel 37:26-28). The picture shown to the prophet in the chapters before us, of the realization of this promise, commences with the description and measuring of the new sanctuary (Ezekiel 40-42), into which the glory of the Lord enters with the assurance, “This is the place of my throne, where I shall dwell for ever among the sons of Israel” (Ezekiel 43:1-12); and concludes with the definition of the boundaries and the division of Canaan among the twelve tribes, as well as of the extent and building of the new Jerusalem (Ezekiel 47:13-48:35). The central portion of this picture is occupied by the new organization of the service of God, by observing which all Israel is to prove itself to be a holy people of the Lord (Ezekiel 43:13-46:24), so as to participate in the blessing which flows like a river from the threshold of the temple and spreads itself over the land (Ezekiel 47:1-12).
From this brief sketch of these nine chapters, it is evident that this vision does not merely treat of the new temple and the new order of the temple-worship, although these points are described in the most elaborate manner; but that it presents a picture of the new form assumed by the whole of the kingdom of God, and in this picture exhibits to the eye the realization of the restoration and the blessedness of Israel. The whole of it may therefore be divided into three sections: viz., ( a) the description of the new temple (Ezekiel 40-43:12); ( b) the new organization of the worship of God (Ezekiel 43:13-46:24); ( c) the blessing of the land of Canaan, and the partition of it among the tribes of Israel (Ezekiel 47:1-48:35); although this division is not strictly adhered it, inasmuch as in the central section not only are several points relating to the temple - such as the description of the altar of burnt-offering (Ezekiel 43:13-17), and the kitchens for the sacrifices (Ezekiel 46:19-24) - repeated, but the therumah to be set apart as holy on the division of the land, and the prince's domain, are also mentioned and defined (Ezekiel 45:1-8).
The New Temple - Ezekiel 40:1-43:12
After a short introduction announcing the time, place, and design of the vision (Ezekiel 40:1-4), the picture of the temple shown to the prophet commences with a description of the courts, with their gates and cells (Ezekiel 40:5-47). It then turns to the description of the temple-house, with the porch and side-building, of the erection upon the separate place (Ezekiel 40:48-41:26), and also of the cells in the outer court set apart for the sacrificial meals of the priests, and for the custody of their official robes; and proceeds to define the extent of the outer circumference of the temple (Ezekiel 42). It closes with the consecration of the temple, as the place of the throne of God, by the entrance into it of the glory of the Lord (Ezekiel 43:1-12).
(Note: For the exposition of this section, compare the thorough, though critically one-sided, work of Jul. Fr. Böttcher ( Exegetisch kritischer Versuch über die ideale Beschreibung der Tempelgebäude Ezech. Ezekiel 40-42, Ezekiel 46:19-24) in the Proben alttestamentlicher Schrifterklärung , Lpz. 1833, pp. 218-365, with two plates of illustrations. - On the other hand, the earlier monographs upon these chapters: Jo. Bapt. Villalpando, de postrema Ezechielis visione, Pars. II of Pradi et Villalpandi in Ezech. explanatt., Rom. 1604; Matth. Hafenreffer, Templum Ezechielis s. in IX postr. prophetiae capita, Tüb. 1613; Leonh. Cph. Sturm, Sciagraphia templi Hierosol....praesertim ex visione Ezech., Lips. 1964; and other writings mentioned in Rosenmüller's Scholia ad Ez. 40, by no means meet the scientific demands of our age. This also applies to the work of Dr. J. J. Balmer-Rinck, with its typographical beauty, Des Propheten Ezechiel Ansicht vom Tempel, mit 5 Tafeln und 1 Karte , Ludwigsc. 1858, and to the description and engraving of Ezekiel's temple in Gust. Unruh's das alte Jerusalem und seine Bauwerke , Langensalza 1861.)
Ezekiel 40:1. In the five and twentieth year of our captivity, at the beginning of the year, on the tenth of the month, in the fourteenth year after the city was smitten, on this same day the hand of Jehovah came upon me, and He brought me thither. Ezekiel 40:2. In visions of God He brought me into the land of Israel, and set me down upon a very high mountain; and upon it there was like a city-edifice toward the south. Ezekiel 40:3. And He brought me thither, and behold there was a man, his appearance like the appearance of brass, and a flaxen cord in his hand, and the measuring-rod; and he stood by the gate. Ezekiel 40:4. And the man spake to me: Son of man, see with thine eyes, and hear with thine ears, and set thy heart upon all that I show thee; for thou art brought hither to show it thee. Tell all that thou seest to the house of Israel. - The twofold announcement of the time when the prophet was shown the vision of the new temple and the new kingdom of God points back to Ezekiel 1:1 and Ezekiel 33:21, and places this divine revelation concerning the new building of the kingdom of God in a definite relation, not only to the appearance of God by which Ezekiel was called to be a prophet (Ezekiel 1:1, Ezekiel 1:3), but also to the vision in Ezekiel 8-11, in which he was shown the destruction of the ancient, sinful Jerusalem, together with its temple. The twenty-fifth year of the captivity, and the fourteenth year after the city was smitten, i.e., taken and reduced to ashes, are the year 575 before Christ. There is a difference of opinion as to the correct explanation of בּראשׁ השּׁנה , at the beginning of the year; but it is certainly incorrect to take the expression as denoting the beginning of the economical or so-called civil year, the seventh month ( Tishri). For, in the first place, the custom of beginning the year with the month Tishri was introduced long after the captivity, and was probably connected with the adoption of the era of the Seleucidae; and, secondly, it is hardly conceivable that Ezekiel should have deviated from the view laid down in the Torah in so important a point as this. The only thing that could render this at all probable would be the assumption proposed by Hitzig, that the year 575 b.c. was a year of jubilee, since the year of jubilee did commence with the day of atonement on the tenth of the seventh month. But the supposition that a jubilee year fell in the twenty-fifth year of the captivity cannot be raised into a probability. We therefore agree with Hävernick and Kliefoth in adhering to the view of the older commentators, that ראשׁ השּׁנה is a contracted repetition of the definition contained in Exodus 12:2, ראשׁ חדשׁים ראשׁון , and signifies the opening month of the year, i.e., the month Abib ( Nisan). The tenth day of this month was the day on which the preparations for the Passover, the feast of the elevation of Israel into the people of God, were to commence, and therefore was well adapted for the revelation of the new constitution of the kingdom of God. On that day was Ezekiel transported, in an ecstatic state, to the site of the smitten Jerusalem. For היתה עלי יד יי , compare Ezekiel 37:1 and Ezekiel 1:3. שׁמּה evidently points back to העיר in Ezekiel 40:2: thither, where the city was smitten. מראות , as in Ezekiel 1:1. יניחני אל : he set me down upon (not by) a very high mountain ( אל for על , as in many other instances; e.g., Ezekiel 18:6 and Ezekiel 31:12).
The very high mountain is Mount Zion, which is exalted above the tops of all the mountains (Micah 4:1; Isaiah 2:2) - the mountain upon which, according to what follows, the new temple seen in the vision stood, and which has already been designated as the lofty mountain of Israel in Ezekiel 17:22-23.
(Note: J. H. Michaelis has already explained it correctly, viz.: “ The highest mountain, such as Isaiah (Isaiah 2:2) had also predicted that Mount Zion would be, not physically, but in the eminence of gospel dignity and glory; cf. Revelation 21:10.”)
Upon this mountain Ezekiel saw something like a city-edifice toward the south (lit.,from the south hither). מבנה is not the building of the new Jerusalem (Hävernick, Kliefoth, etc.). For even if what was to be seen as a city-edifice really could be one, although no tenable proof can be adduced of this use of כ simil., nothing is said about the city till Ezekiel 45:6 and 48:156 and 30 ff., and even there it is only in combination with the measuring and dividing of the land; so that Hävernick's remark, that “the revelation has reference to the sanctuary and the city; these two principal objects announce themselves at once as such in the form of vision,” is neither correct nor conclusive. The revelation has reference to the temple and the whole of the holy land, including the city; and the city itself does not come at all into such prominence as to warrant us in assuming that there is already a reference made to it here in the introduction. If we look at the context, the man with the measure, whom Ezekiel saw at the place to which he was transported, was standing at the gate (Ezekiel 40:3). This gate in the wall round about the building was, according to Ezekiel 40:5, Ezekiel 40:6, a temple gate. Consequently what Ezekiel saw as a city-edifice can only be the building of the new temple, with its surrounding wall and its manifold court buildings. The expressions עליו and מנגב can both be brought into harmony with this. עליו refers to the very high mountain mentioned immediately before, to the summit of which the prophet had been transported, and upon which the temple-edifice is measured before his eyes. But מנגב does not imply, that as Ezekiel looked from the mountain he saw in the distance, toward the south, a magnificent building like a city-edifice; but simply that, looking from his standing-place in a southerly direction, or southwards, he saw this building upon the mountain, - that is to say, as he had been transported from Chaldea, i.e., from the north, into the land of Israel, he really saw it before him towards the south; so that the rendering of מנגב by ἀπέναντι in the Septuagint is substantially correct, though without furnishing any warrant to alter מנגב into מנּגד . In Ezekiel 40:3, ויּביא is repeated from the end of Ezekiel 40:1, for the purpose of attaching the following description of what is seen, in the sense of, “when He brought me thither, behold, there (was) a man.” His appearance was like the appearance of brass, i.e., of shining brass (according to the correct gloss of the lxx χαλκοῦ στίλβοντος נחשׁת קלל = , Ezekiel 1:7). This figure suggests a heavenly being, an angel, and as he is called Jehovah in Ezekiel 44:2, Ezekiel 44:5, the angel of Jehovah. Kliefoth's opinion, that in Ezekiel 44:2, Ezekiel 44:5, it is not the man who is speaking, but that the prophet is there addressed directly by the apparition of God (Ezekiel 43:2 ff.), is proved to be untenable by the simple fact that the speaker (in Ezekiel 44) admonishes the prophet in Ezekiel 40:5 to attend, to see, and to hear, in the same words as the man in Ezekiel 40:4 of the chapter before us. This places the identity of the two beyond the reach of doubt. He had in his hand a flaxen cord for measuring, and the measuring rod - that is to say, two measures, because he had to measure many and various things, smaller and larger spaces, for the former of which he had the measuring rod, for the latter the measuring line. The gate at which this man stood (Ezekiel 40:3) is not more precisely defined, but according to Ezekiel 40:5 it is to be sought for in the wall surrounding the building; and since he went to the east gate first, according to Ezekiel 40:6, it was not the east gate, but probably the north gate, as it was from the north that Ezekiel had come.
The Surrounding Wall
And, behold, a wall (ran) on the outside round the house; and in the man's hand was the measuring rod of six cubits, each a cubit and a handbreadth; and he measured the breadth of the building a rod, and the height a rod. - The description of the temple (for, according to what follows, הבּית is the house of Jehovah) (cf. Ezekiel 43:7) commences with the surrounding wall of the outer court, whose breadth (i.e., thickness) and height are measured (see the illustration, Plate I a a a a), the length of the measuring rod having first been given by way of parenthesis. This was six cubits (sc., measured) by the cubit and handbreadth - that is to say, six cubits, each of which was of the length of a (common) cubit and a handbreadth (cf. Ezekiel 43:13); in all, therefore, six cubits and six handbreadths. The ordinary or common cubit, judging from the statement in 2 Chronicles 3:3, that the measure of Solomon's temple was regulated according to the earlier measure, had become shorter in the course of time than the old Mosaic or sacred cubit. Fro the new temple, therefore, the measure is regulated according to a longer cubit, in all probability according to the old sacred cubit of the Mosaic law, which was a handbreadth longer than the common cubit according to the passage before us, or seven handbreadths of the ordinary cubit. הבּנין , the masonry, is the building of the wall, which was one rod broad, i.e., thick, and the same in height. The length of this wall is not given, and can only be learned from the further description of the whole wall (see the comm. on Ezekiel 40:27).
The Buildings of the East Gate
(See Plate II 1). - Ezekiel 40:6. And he went to the gate, the direction of which was toward the east, and ascended the steps thereof, and measured the threshold of the gate one rod broad, namely, the first threshold one rod broad, Ezekiel 40:7. And the guard-room one rod long and one rod broad, and between the guard-rooms five cubits, and the threshold of the gate by the porch of the gate from the temple hither one rod. Ezekiel 40:8. And he measured the porch of the gate from the temple hither one rod. Ezekiel 40:9. And he measured the porch of the gate eight cubits, and its pillars two cubits; and the porch of the gate was from the temple hither. Ezekiel 40:10. And of the guard-rooms of the gate toward the east there were three on this side and three on that side; all three had one measure, and the pillars also one measure on this side and on that. Ezekiel 40:11. And he measured the breadth of the opening of the gate ten cubits, the length of the gate thirteen cubits. Ezekiel 40:12. And there was a boundary fence before the guard-rooms of one cubit, and a cubit was the boundary fence on that side, and the guard-rooms were six cubits on this side and six cubits on that side. Ezekiel 40:13. And he measured the gate from the roof of the guard-rooms to the roof of them five and twenty cubits broad, door against door. Ezekiel 40:14. And he fixed the pillars at sixty cubits, and the court round about the gate reached to the pillars. Ezekiel 40:15. And the front of the entrance gate to the front of the porch of the inner gate was fifty cubits. Ezekiel 40:16. And there were closed windows in the guard-rooms, and in their pillars on the inner side of the gate round about, and so also in the projections of the walls; there were windows round about on the inner side, and palms on the pillars. - ויּבוא אל שׁער is not to be rendered, “he went in at the gate.” For although this would be grammatically admissible, it is not in harmony with what follows, according to which the man first of all ascended the steps, and then commenced the measuring of the gate-buildings with the threshold of the gate. The steps ( B in the illustration) are not to be thought of as in the surrounding wall, but as being outside in front of them; but in the description which follows they are not included in the length of the gate-buildings. The number of steps is not give here, but they have no doubt been fixed correctly by the lxx at seven, as that is the number given in Ezekiel 40:22 and Ezekiel 40:26 in connection with both the northern and southern gates. From the steps the man came to the threshold ( C), and measured it. “The actual description of the first building, that of the eastern gate, commences in the inside; first of all, the entire length is traversed (Ezekiel 40:6-9), and the principal divisions are measured on the one side; then (Ezekiel 40:10-12) the inner portions on both sides are given more definitely as to their character, number, and measure; in Ezekiel 40:13-15 the relations and measurement of the whole building are noticed; and finally (Ezekiel 40:16), the wall-decorations observed round about the inside. The exit from the gate is first mentioned in Ezekiel 40:17; consequently all that is given in Ezekiel 40:6-16 must have been visible within the building, just as in the case of the other gates the measurements and descriptions are always to be regarded as given from within” (Böttcher). The threshold ( C) was a rod in breadth, - that is to say, measuring from the outside to the inside, - and was therefore just as broad as the wall was thick (Ezekiel 40:5). But this threshold was the one, or first threshold, which had to be crossed by any one who entered the gate from the outside, for the gate-building had a second threshold at the exit into the court, which is mentioned in Ezekiel 40:7. Hence the more precise definition ואת סף אחד , “and that the one, i.e., first threshold,” in connection with which the breadth is given a second time. את is neither nota nominativi , nor is it used in the sense of זאת ; but it is nota accus ., and is also governed by ויּמד . And אחד is not to be taken in a pregnant sense, “only one, i.e., not broken up, or composed of several” (Böttcher, Hävernick), but is employed, as it frequently is in enumeration, for the ordinal number: one for the first (vid., e.g., Genesis 1:5, Genesis 1:7).
The length of the threshold, i.e., its measure between the two door-posts (from north to south), is not given; but from the breadth of the entrance door mentioned in Ezekiel 40:11, we can infer that it was ten cubits. Proceeding from the threshold, we have next the measurement of the guard-room ( G), mentioned in Ezekiel 40:7. According to 1 Kings 14:28, תּא is a room constructed in the gate, for the use of the guard keeping watch at the gate. This was a rod in length, and the same in breadth. A space of five cubits is then mentioned as intervening between the guard-rooms. It is evident from this that there were several guard-rooms in succession; according to Ezekiel 40:10, three on each side of the doorway, but that instead of their immediately joining one another, they were separated by intervening spaces ( H) of five cubits each. This required two spaces on each side. These spaces between the guard-rooms, of which we have no further description, must not be thought of as open or unenclosed, for in that case there would have been so many entrances into the court, and the gateway would not be closed; but we must assume “that they were closed by side walls, which connected the guard-rooms with one another” (Kliefoth). - After the guard-rooms there follows, thirdly, the threshold of the gate on the side of, or near the porch of, the gate “in the direction from the house,” i.e., the second threshold, which was at the western exit from the gate-buildings near the porch ( D); in other words, which stood as you entered immediately in front of the porch leading out into the court ( C C), and was also a cubit in breadth, like the first threshold at the eastern entrance into the gate. מהבּית , “in the direction from the house,” or, transposing it into our mode of viewing and describing directions, “going toward the temple-house.” This is added to אלם השּׁער to indicate clearly the position of this porch as being by the inner passage of the gate-buildings leading into the court, so as to guard against our thinking of a porch erected on the outside in front of the entrance gate. Böttcher, Hitzig, and others are wrong in identifying or interchanging מהבּית with מבּית , inwardly, intrinsecus (Ezekiel 7:15; 1 Kings 6:15), and taking it as referring to סף , as if the intention were to designate this threshold as the inner one lying within the gate-buildings, in contrast to the first threshold mentioned in Ezekiel 40:6.
In Ezekiel 40:8 and Ezekiel 40:9 two different measures of this court-porch ( D) are given, viz., first, one rod = six cubits (Ezekiel 40:8), and then eight cubits (Ezekiel 40:9). The ancient translators stumbled at this difference, and still more at the fact that the definition of the measurement is repeated in the same words; so that, with the exception of the Targumists, they have all omitted the eighth verse; and in consequence of this, modern critics, such as Houbigant, Ewald, Böttcher, and Hitzig, have expunged it from the text as a gloss. But however strange the repetition of the measurement of the porch with a difference in the numbers may appear at the first glance, and however naturally it may suggest the thought of a gloss which has crept into the text through the oversight of a copyists, it is very difficult to understand how such a gloss could have been perpetuated; and this cannot be explained by the groundless assumption that there was an unwillingness to erase what had once been erroneously written. To this must be added the difference in the terms employed to describe the dimensions, viz., first, a rod, and then eight cubits, as well as the circumstance that in Ezekiel 40:9, in addition to the measure of the porch, that of the pillars adjoining the porch is given immediately afterwards. The attempts of the earlier commentators to explain the two measurements of the porch have altogether failed; and Kliefoth was the first to solve the difficulty correctly, by explaining that in Ezekiel 40:8 the measurement of the porch is given in the clear, i.e., according to the length within, or the depth (from east to west), whilst in Ezekiel 40:9 the external length of the southern (or northern) wall of the porch (from east to west) is given. Both of these were necessary, the former to give a correct idea of the inner space of the porch, as in the case of the guard-rooms in Ezekiel 40:8; the latter, to supply the necessary data for the entire length of the gate-buildings, and to make it possible to append to this the dimensions of the pillars adjoining the western porch-wall. As a portion of the gate-entrance or gateway, this porch was open to the east and west; and toward the west, i.e., toward the court, it was closed by the gate built against it. Kliefoth therefore assumes that the porch-walls on the southern and northern sides projected two cubits toward the west beyond the inner space of the porch, which lay between the threshold and the gate that could be closed, and was six cubits long, and that the two gate-pillars, with their thickness of two cubits each, were attached to this prolongation of the side walls. But by this supposition we do not gain a porch ( אלם ), but a simple extension of the intervening wall between the third guard-room and the western gate. If the continuation of the side walls, which joined the masonry bounding the western threshold on the south and north, was to have the character of a porch, the hinder wall (to the east) could not be entirely wanting; but even if there were a large opening in it for the doorway, it must stand out in some way so as to strike the eye, whether by projections of the wall at the north-east and south-east corners, or what may be more probable, by the fact that the southern and northern side walls receded at least a cubit in the inside, if not more, so that the masonry of the walls of the porch was weaker (thinner) than that at the side of the threshold and by the pillars, and the porch in the clear from north to south was broader than the doorway. The suffix attached to אילו is probably to be taken as referring to אלם השּׁער , and not merely to שׁער , and the word itself to be construed as a plural ( איליו ): the pillars of the gate-porch (E) were two cubits thick, or strong. This measurement is not to be divided between the two pillars, as the earlier commentators supposed, so that each pillar would be but one cubit thick, but applies to each of them. As the pillars were sixty cubits high (according to Ezekiel 40:14), they must have had the strength of at least two cubits of thickness to secure the requisite firmness. At the close of the ninth verse, the statement that the gate-porch was directed towards the temple-house is made for the third time, because it was this peculiarity in the situation which distinguished the gate-buildings of the outer court from those of the inner; inasmuch as in the case of the latter, although in other respects its construction resembled that of the gate-buildings of the outer court, the situation was reversed, and the gate-porch was at the side turned away from the temple toward the outer court, as is also emphatically stated three times in Ezekiel 40:31, Ezekiel 40:34, and Ezekiel 40:37 (Kliefoth).
On reaching the gate-porch and its pillars, the measurer had gone through the entire length of the gate-buildings, and determined the measure of all its component parts, so far as the length was concerned. Having arrived at the inner extremity or exit, the describer returns, in order to supply certain important particulars with regard to the situation and character of the whole structure. He first of all observes (in Ezekiel 40:10), with reference to the number and relative position of the guard-houses ( G), that there were three of them on each side opposite to one another, that all six were of the same measure, i.e., one rod in length and one in breadth (Ezekiel 40:7); and then, that the pillars mentioned in Ezekiel 40:9, the measurement of which was determined ( E), standing at the gate-porch on either side, were of the same size. Many of the commentators have erroneously imagined that by לאילם we are to understand the walls between the guard-rooms or pillars in the guard-rooms. The connecting walls could not be called אילים ; and if pillars belonging to the guard-rooms were intended, we should expect to find לאיליו . - In Ezekiel 40:11 there follow the measurements of the breadth and length of the doorway. The breadth of the opening, i.e., the width of the doorway, was ten cubits. “By this we are naturally to understand the breadth of the whole doorway in its full extent, just as the length of the two thresholds and the seven steps, which was not given in Ezekiel 40:6 and Ezekiel 40:7, is also fixed at ten cubits” (Kliefoth). - The measurement which follows, viz., “the length of the gate, thirteen cubits,” is difficult to explain, and has been interpreted in very different ways. The supposition of Lyra, Kliefoth, and others, that by the length of the gate we are to understand the height of the trellised gate, which could be opened and shut, cannot possibly be correct. ארך , length, never stands for קומה , height; and השּׁער in this connection cannot mean the gate that was opened and shut. השּׁער , as distinguished from פּתח השּׁער , can only signify either the whole of the gate-building (as in Ezekiel 40:6), or, in a more limited sense, that portion of the building which bore the character of a gate in a conspicuous way; primarily, therefore, the masonry enclosing the threshold on the two sides, together with its roof; and then, generally, the covered doorway, or that portion of the gate-building which was roofed over, in distinction from the uncovered portion of the building between the two gates (Böttcher, Hitzig, and Hävernick); inasmuch as it cannot be supposed that a gate-building of fifty cubits long was entirely roofed in. Now, as there are two thresholds mentioned in Ezekiel 40:6 and Ezekiel 40:7, and the distinction in Ezekiel 40:15 between the (outer) entrance-gate and the porch of the inner gate implies that the gate-building had two gates, like the gate-building of the city of Mahanaim (2 Samuel 18:24), one might be disposed to distribute the thirteen cubits' length of the gate between the two gates, because each threshold had simply a measurement of six cubits. But such a supposition as this, which is not very probable in itself, is proved to be untenable, by the fact that throughout the whole description we never find the measurements of two or more separate portions added together, so that no other course is open than to assume, as Böttcher, Hitzig, and Hävernick have done, that the length of thirteen cubits refers to one covered doorway, and that, according to the analogy of the measurements of the guard-rooms given in Ezekiel 40:7, it applies to the second gateway also; in which case, out of the forty cubits which constituted the whole length of the gate-building (without the front porch), about two-thirds (twenty-six cubits) would be covered gateway ( b b), and the fourteen cubits between would form an uncovered court-yard ( c c) enclosed on all sides by the gate-buildings. Consequently the roofing of the gate extended from the eastern and western side over the guard-room, which immediately adjoined the threshold of the gate, and a cubit beyond that, over the wall which intervened between the guard-rooms, so that only the central guard-room on either side, together with a portion of the walls which bounded it, stood in the uncovered portion or court of the gate-building.
According to Ezekiel 40:12, there was a גּבוּל , or boundary, in front of the guard-rooms, i.e., a boundary fence of a cubit in breadth, along the whole of the guard-room, with its breadth of six cubits on either side. The construction of this boundary fence or barrier ( a) is not explained; but the design of it is clear, namely to enable the sentry to come without obstruction out of the guard-room, to observe what was going on in the gate both on the right and left, without being disturbed by those who were passing through the gate. These boundary fences in front of the guard-rooms projected into the gateway to the extent described, so that there were only eight (10-2) cubits open space between the guard-rooms, for those who were going out and in. In Ezekiel 40:12 we must supply מפּה after the first אחת because of the parallelism. Ezekiel 40:12 is a substantial repetition of Ezekiel 40:7. - In Ezekiel 40:13 there follows the measure of the breadth of the gate-building. From the roof of the one guard-room to the roof of the other guard-room opposite ( לגגּו is an abbreviated expression for לגג התּא ) the breadth was twenty-five cubits, “door against door.” These last words are added for the sake of clearness, to designate the direction of the measurement as taken right across the gateway. The door of the guard-room, however, can only be the door in the outer wall, by which the sentries passed to and fro between the room and the court. The measurement given will not allow of our thinking of a door in the inner wall, i.e., the wall of the barrier of the gateway, without touching the question in dispute among the commentators, whether the guard-rooms had walls toward the gateway or not, i.e., whether they were rooms that could be closed, or sentry-boxes open in front. All that the measuring from roof to roof presupposes is indisputable is, that the guard-rooms had a roof. The measurement given agrees, moreover, with the other measurements. The breadth of the gateway with its ten cubits, added to that of each guard-room with six; and therefore of both together with twelve, makes twenty-two cubits in all; so that if we add three cubits for the thickness of the two outer walls, or a cubit and a half each, that is to say, according to Ezekiel 40:42, the breadth of one hewn square stone, we obtain twenty-five cubits for the breadth of the whole gate-building, the dimension given in Ezekiel 40:21, Ezekiel 40:25, and Ezekiel 40:29.
There is a further difficulty in Ezekiel 40:14. The אילים , whose measurement is fixed in the first clause at sixty cubits, can only be the gate-pillars ( איליו ) mentioned in Ezekiel 40:9; and the measurement given can only refer to their height. The height of sixty cubits serves to explain the choice of the verb ויּעשׂ , in the general sense of constituit , instead of ויּמד , inasmuch as such a height could not be measured from the bottom to the top with the measuring rod, but could only be estimated and fixed at such and such a result. With regard to the offence taken by modern critics at the sixty cubits, Kliefoth has very correctly observed, that “if it had been considered that our church towers have also grown out of gate-pillars, that we may see for ourselves not only in Egyptian obelisks and Turkish minarets, but in our own hollow factory-chimneys, how pillars of sixty cubits can be erected upon a pedestal of two cubits square; and lastly, that we have here to do with a colossal building seen in a vision, - there would have been no critical difficulties discovered in this statement as to the height.” Moreover, not only the number, but the whole text is verified as correct by the Targum and Vulgate, and defended by them against all critical caprice; whilst the verdict of Böttcher himself concerning the Greek and Syriac texts is, that they are senselessly mutilated and disfigured. - In the second half of the verse איל stands in a collective sense: “and the court touched the pillars.” החצר is not a court situated within the gate-building (Hitzig, Hävernick, and others), but the outer court of the temple. השּׁער is an accusative, literally, with regard to the gate round about, i.e., encompassing the gate-building round about, that is to say, on three sides. These words plainly affirm what is implied in the preceding account, namely, that the gate-building stood within the outer court, and that not merely so far as the porch was concerned, but in its whole extent. - To this there is very suitably attached in Ezekiel 40:15 the account of the length of the whole building. The words, “at the front of the entrance gate to the front of the porch of the inner gate,” are a concise topographical expression for “from the front side of the entrance gate to the front side of the porch of the inner gate.” At the starting-point of the measurement מן מעל ) was unnecessary, as the point of commencement is indicated by the position of the word; and in על לפני , as distinguished from על פּני , the direction toward the terminal point is shown, so that there is no necessity to alter על into עד , since על , when used of the direction in which the object aimed at lies, frequently touches the ordinary meaning of עד (cf. על קצותם , Psalms 19:7, and על תּבליתם , Isaiah 10:25); whilst here the direction is rendered perfectly plain by the ל (in לפני ). The Chetib היאתון , a misspelling for האיתון , we agree with Gesenius and others in regarding as a substantive: “entrance.” The entrance gate is the outer gate, at the flight of steps leading into the gate-building. Opposite to this was the “inner gate” as the end of the gate-building, by the porch leading into the court. The length from the outer to the inner gate was fifty cubits, which is the resultant obtained from the measurements of the several portions of the gate-building, as given in Ezekiel 40:6-10; namely, six cubits the breadth of the first threshold, 3 x 6 = 18 cubits that of the three guard-rooms, 2 x 5 = 10 cubits that of the spaces intervening between the guard-rooms, 6 cubits that of the inner threshold, 8 cubits that of the gate-porch, and 2 cubits that of the gate-pillars (6 + 18 + 10 + 6 + 8 + 2 = 50).
Lastly, in Ezekiel 40:16, the windows and decorations of the gate-buildings are mentioned. חלּונות , closed windows, is, no doubt, a contracted expression for חלּוני שׁקפים אטמים (1 Kings 6:4), windows of closed bars, i.e., windows, the lattice-work of which was made so fast, that they could not be opened at pleasure like the windows of dwelling-houses. but it is difficult to determine the situation of these windows. According to the words of the text, they were in the guard-rooms and in אליהמּה and also לאלמּות , and that לפנימה into the interior of the gate-building, i.e., going into the inner side of the gateway סביב סביב , round about, i.e., surrounding the gateway on all sides. To understand these statements, we must endeavour, first of all, to get a clear idea of the meaning of the words אילים and אלמּות . The first occurs in the singular איל , not only in Ezekiel 40:14, Ezekiel 40:16, and Ezekiel 41:3, but also in 1 Kings 6:31; in the plural only in this chapter and in Ezekiel 41:1. The second אילם or אלם is met with only in this chapter, and always in the plural, in the form אלמּות mrof e only in Ezekiel 40:16 and Ezekiel 40:30, in other cases always אילמּים , or with a suffix אילמּיו , after the analogy of תּאות in Ezekiel 40:12 by the side of תּאים in Ezekiel 40:7 and Ezekiel 40:16, תּאי in Ezekiel 40:10, and תּאיו or תּאו in Ezekiel 40:21, Ezekiel 40:29, Ezekiel 40:33, Ezekiel 40:36, from which it is apparent that the difference in the formation of the plural ( אילמות and אילמים ) has no influence upon the meaning of the word. On the other hand, it is evident from our verse (Ezekiel 40:16), and still more so from the expression אילי ואל , which is repeated in Ezekiel 40:21, Ezekiel 40:24, Ezekiel 40:29, Ezekiel 40:33, and Ezekiel 40:36 (cf. Ezekiel 40:26, Ezekiel 40:31, and Ezekiel 40:34), that אלים and אלמּים must signify different things, and are not to be identified, as Böttcher and others suppose. The word איל , as an architectural term, never occurs except in connection with doors or gates. It is used in this connection as early as 1 Kings 6:31, in the description of the door of the most holy place in Solomon's temple, where האיל signifies the projection on the door-posts, i.e., the projecting portion of the wall in which the door-posts were fixed. Ezekiel uses איל הפּתח in Ezekiel 41:3 in the same sense in relation to the door of the most holy place, and in an analogous manner applies the term אילים to the pillars which rose up to a colossal height at or by the gates of the courts (Ezekiel 40:9, Ezekiel 40:10, Ezekiel 40:14, Ezekiel 40:21, Ezekiel 40:24, etc.), and also of the pillars at the entrance into the holy place (Ezekiel 41:1). The same meaning may also be retained in Ezekiel 40:16, where pillars (or posts) are attributed to the guard-rooms, since the suffix in אליהמּה can only be taken as referring to התּאים . As these guard-rooms had doors, the doors may also have had their posts. And just as in Ezekiel 40:14 אל־איל points back to the אלים previously mentioned, and the singular is used in a collective sense; so may the אל איל in Ezekiel 40:16 be taken collectively, and referred to the pillars mentioned before.
There is more difficulty in determining the meaning of אילם (plural אלמּים or אלמּות ), which has been identified sometimes with אוּלם , sometimes with אילים . Although etymologically connected with these two words, it is not only clearly distinguished from אילים , as we have already observed, but it is also distinguished from אוּלם by the fact that, apart from Ezekiel 41:15, where the plural אוּלמּי signifies the front porches in all the gate-buildings of the court, אוּלם only occurs in the singular, because every gate-building had only one front porch, whereas the plural is always used in the case of אלמּים . So far as the form is concerned, אילם is derived from איל ; and since איל signifies the projection, more especially the pillars on both sides of the doors and gates, it has apparently the force of an abstract noun, projecting work; but as distinguished from the prominent pillars, it seems to indicate the projecting works or portions on the side walls of a building of large dimensions. If, then, we endeavour to determine the meaning of אילם more precisely in our description of the gate-building, where alone the word occurs, we find from Ezekiel 40:30 that there were אלמּות round about the gate-buildings; and again from Ezekiel 40:16 and Ezekiel 40:25, that the אלמּים had windows, which entered into the gateway; and still further from Ezekiel 40:22 and Ezekiel 40:26, that when one ascended the flight of steps, they were לפני , “in front of them.” And lastly, from Ezekiel 40:21, Ezekiel 40:29, and Ezekiel 40:33, where guard-rooms, on this side and on that side, pillars ( אלים ), and אלמּים are mentioned as constituent parts of the gate-building or gateway, and the length of the gateway is given as fifty cubits, we may infer that the אלמּים , with the guard-rooms and pillars, formed the side enclosures of the gateway throughout its entire length. Consequently we shall not be mistaken, if we follow Kliefoth in understanding by אלמּים those portions of the inner side walls of the gateway which projected in the same manner as the two pillars by the porch, namely, the intervening walls between the three guard-rooms, and also those portions of the side walls which enclosed the two thresholds on either side. For “there was nothing more along the gateway, with the exception of the portions mentioned,” that projected in any way, inasmuch as these projecting portions of the side enclosures, together with the breadth of the guard-rooms and the porch, along with its pillars, made up the entire length of the gateway, amounting to fifty cubits. This explanation of the word is applicable to all the passages in which it occurs, even to Ezekiel 40:30 and Ezekiel 40:31, as the exposition of these verses will show. - It follows from this that the windows mentioned in Ezekiel 40:16 can only be sought for in the walls of the guard-rooms and the projecting side walls of the gateway; and therefore that ואל אליהמּה is to be taken as a more precise definition of אל־התּאים : “there were windows in the guard-rooms, and, indeed (that is to say), in their pillars,” i.e., by the side of the pillars enclosing the door. These windows entered into the interior of the gateway. It still remains questionable, however, whether these windows looked out of the guard-rooms into the court, and at the same time threw light into the interior of the gateway, because the guard-rooms were open towards the gateway, as Böttcher, Hitzig, Kliefoth, and others assume; or whether the guard-rooms had also a wall with a door opening into the gateway, and windows on both sides, to which allusion is made here. The latter is by no means probable, inasmuch as, if the guard-rooms were not open towards the gateway, the walls between them would not have projected in such a manner as to allow of their being designated as אלמּות . For this reason we regard the former as the correct supposition. There is some difficulty also in the further expression סביב סביב ; for, strictly speaking, there were not windows round about, but simply on both sides of the gateway. But if we bear in mind that the windows in the hinder or outer wall of the guard-rooms receded considerably in relation to the windows in the projecting side walls, the expression סביב סביב can be justified in this sense: “all round, wherever the eye turned in the gateway.” כּן לאלםּ , likewise in the projecting walls, sc. there were such windows. וכן implies not only that there were windows in these walls, but also that they were constructed in the same manner as those in the pillars of the guard-rooms. It was only thus that the gateway came to have windows round about, which went inwards. Consequently this is repeated once more; and in the last clause of the verse it is still further observed, that אל איל , i.e., according to Ezekiel 40:15, on the two lofty pillars in front of the porch, there were תּמּרים added, i.e., ornaments in the form of palms, not merely of palm branches or palm leaves. - This completes the description of the eastern gate of the outer court. The measuring angel now leads the prophet over the court to the other two gates, the north gate and the south gate. On the way, the outer court is described and measured.
The Outer Court Described and Measured
Ezekiel 40:17. And he led me into the outer court, and behold there were cells and pavement made round the court; thirty cells on the pavement. Ezekiel 40:18. And the pavement was by the side of the gates, corresponding to the length of the gates, (namely) the lower pavement. Ezekiel 40:19. And he measured the breadth from the front of the lower gate to the front of the inner court, about a hundred cubits on the east side and on the north side. - Ezekiel having been led through the eastern gate into the outer court, was able to survey it, not on the eastern side only, but also on the northern and southern sides; and there he perceived cells and רצפּה , pavimentum , mosaic pavement, or a floor paved with stones laid in mosaic form (2 Chronicles 7:3; Esther 1:6), made round the court; that is to say, according to the more precise description in v. 18, on both sides of the gate-buildings, of a breadth corresponding to their length, running along the inner side of the wall of the court, and consequently not covering the floor of the court in all its extent, but simply running along the inner side of the surrounding wall as a strip of about fifty cubits broad, and that not uniformly on all four sides, but simply on the eastern, southern, and northern sides, and at the north-west and south-west corners of the western side, so far, namely, as the outer court surrounded the inner court and temple (see Plate I b b b); for on the western side the intervening space from the inner court and temple-house to the surrounding wall of the outer court was filled by a special building of the separate place. It is with this limitation that we have to take סביב סביב . f עשׂוּ y may belong either to לשׁכות ורצפּה or merely to רצפּה , so far as grammatical considerations are concerned; for in either case there would be an irregularity in the gender, and the participle is put in the singular as a neuter. If we look fairly at the fact itself, not one of the reasons assigned by Kliefoth, for taking f עשׂוּ y as referring to רצפּה only, is applicable throughout. If the pavement ran round by the side of the gate-building on three sides of the court, and the cells were by or upon the pavement, they may have stood on three sides of the court without our being forced to assume, or even warranted in assuming, that they must of necessity have filled up the whole length on every side from the shoulder of the gate-building to the corner, or rather to the space that was set apart in every corner, according to Ezekiel 46:21-24, for the cooking of the sacrificial meals of the people. We therefore prefer to take עשׂוּי as referring to the cells and the pavement; because this answers better than the other, both to the construction and to the fact. In Ezekiel 40:18 the pavement is said to have been by the shoulder of the gates. השּׁערים is in the plural, because Ezekiel had probably also in his mind the two gates which are not described till afterwards. כּתף , the shoulder of the agate-buildings regarded as a body, is the space on either side of the gate-building along the wall, with the two angles formed by the longer side of the gate-buildings and the line of the surrounding wall. This is more precisely defined by ' לעמּת ארך השׁ , alongside of the length of the gates, i.e., running parallel with it (cf. 2 Samuel 16:13), or stretching out on both sides with a breadth corresponding to the length of the gate-buildings. The gates were fifty cubits long, or, deducting the thickness of the outer wall, they projected into the court to the distance of forty-four cubits. Consequently the pavement ran along the inner sides of the surrounding wall with a breadth of forty-four cubits. This pavement is called the lower pavement, in distinction from the pavement or floor of the inner court, which was on a higher elevation.
All that is said concerning the לשׁכות is, that there were thirty of them, and that they were אל הרצפּה (see Plate I C). The dispute whether אל signifies by or upon the pavement has no bearing upon the fact itself. As Ezekiel frequently uses אל for על , and vice versâ, the rendering upon can be defended; but it cannot be established, as Hitzig supposes, by referring to 2 Kings 16:17. If we retain the literal meaning of אל , at or against, we cannot picture to ourselves the position of the cells as projecting from the inner edge of the pavement into the unpaved portion of the court; for in that case, to a person crossing the court, they would have stood in front of ( לפני ) the pavement rather than against the pavement. The prep. אל , against, rather suggests the fact that the cells were built near the surrounding wall, so that the pavement ran along the front of them, which faced the inner court in an unbroken line. In this case it made no difference to the view whether the cells were erected upon the pavement, or the space occupied by the cells was left unpaved, and the pavement simply joined the lower edge of the walls of the cells all round. The text contains no account of the manner in which they were distributed on the three sides of the court. But it is obvious from the use of the plural לשׁכות , that the reference is not to thirty entire buildings, but simply to thirty rooms, as לשׁכּה does not signify a building consisting of several rooms, but always a single room or cell in a building. Thus in 1 Samuel 9:22 it stands for a room appointed for holding the sacrificial meals, and that by no means a small room, but one which could accommodate about thirty persons. In Jeremiah 36:12 it is applied to a room in the king's palace, used as the chancery. Elsewhere לשׁכּה is the term constantly employed for the rooms in the court-buildings and side-buildings of the temple, which served partly as a residence for the officiating priests and Levites, and partly for the storing of the temple dues collected in the form of tithes, fruits, and money (vid., 2 Kings 23:11; Jeremiah 35:4; Jeremiah 36:10; 1 Chronicles 9:26; Nehemiah 10:38 -40). Consequently we must not think of thirty separate buildings, but have to distribute the thirty cells on the three sides of the court in such a manner that there would be ten on each side, and for the sake of symmetry five in every building, standing both right and left between the gate-building and the corner kitchens. - In Ezekiel 40:19 the size or compass of the outer court is determined. The breadth from the front of the lower gate to the front of the inner court was 100 cubits. השּׁער התּחתּונה , the gate of the lower court, i.e., the outer gate, which was lower than the inner. התּחתּונה is not an adjective agreeing with שׁער , for apart from Isaiah 14:31 שׁער is never construed as a feminine; but it is used as a substantive for חצר התּחתּונה , the lower court, see the comm. on Ezekiel 8:3. מלפני denotes the point from which the measuring started, and לפני החצר the direction in which it proceeded, including also the terminus: “to before the inner court,” equivalent to “up to the front of the inner court,” The terminal point is more precisely defined by מחוּץ , from without, which Hitzig proposes to erase as needless and unusual, but without any reason. For, inasmuch as the gateways of the inner court were built into the outer court, as is evident from what follows, מחוּץ simply affirms that the measuring only extended to the point where the inner court commenced within the outer, namely, to the front of the porch of the gate, not to the boundary wall of the inner court, as this wall stood at a greater distance from the porch of the outer court-gate by the whole length of the court-gate, that is to say, as much as fifty cubits. From this more precise definition of the terminal point it follows still further, that the starting-point was not the boundary-wall, but the porch of the gate of the outer court; in other words, that the hundred cubits measured by the man did not include the fifty cubits' length of the gate-building, but this is expressly excluded. This is placed beyond all doubt by Ezekiel 40:23 and Ezekiel 40:27, where the distance of the inner court-gate from the gate (of the outer court) is said to have been a hundred cubits. - The closing words הקּדים have been very properly separated by the Masoretes from what precedes, by means of the Athnach, for they are not to be taken in close connection with ויּמד ; nor are they to be rendered, “he measured...toward the east and toward the north” for this would be at variance with the statement, “to the front of the inner court.” They are rather meant to supply a further appositional definition to the whole of the preceding clause: “he measured from...a hundred cubits,” relating to the east side and the north side of the court, and affirm that the measuring took place from gate to gate both on the eastern and on the northern side; in other words, that the measure given, a hundred cubits, applied to the eastern side as well as the northern; and thus they prepare the way for the description of the north gate, which follows from Ezekiel 40:20 onwards.
The North Gate and the South Gate of the Outer Court (1 Plate I A)
The description of these two gate-buildings is very brief, only the principal portions being mentioned, coupled with the remark that they resembled those of the east gate. The following is the description of the north gate. - Ezekiel 40:20. And the gate, whose direction was toward the north, touching the outer court, he measured its length and its breadth, Ezekiel 40:21. And its guard-rooms, three on this side and three on that, and its pillars and its wall-projections. It was according to the measure of the first gate, fifty cubits its length, and the breadth five and twenty cubits. Ezekiel 40:22. And its windows and its wall-projections and its palms were according to the measure of the gate, whose direction was toward the east; and by seven steps they went up, and its wall-projections were in front of it. Ezekiel 40:23. And a gate to the inner court was opposite the gate to the north and to the east; and he measured from gate to gate a hundred cubits. - With the measuring of the breadth of the court the measuring man had reached the north gate, which he also proceeded to measure now. In Ezekiel 40:20 the words והשּׁער to החיצונה are written absolutely; and in Ezekiel 40:21 the verb היה does not belong to the objects previously enumerated, viz., guard-rooms, pillars, etc., but these objects are governed by ויּמד yb denrevog e , and היה points back to the principal subject of the two verses, השּׁער : it (the gate) was according to the measure... (cf. Ezekiel 40:15 and Ezekiel 40:13). For the use of ב in definitions of measurement, “25 בּאמּה ” ( by the cubit, sc. measured), as in Exodus 27:18, etc., see Gesenius, §120. 4, Anm. 2. The “first gate” is the east gate, the one first measured and described. In Ezekiel 40:23 the number of steps is given which the flight leading into the gateway had; and this of course applies to the flight of steps of the east gate also (Ezekiel 40:6). In Ezekiel 40:22, כּמדּת is not to be regarded as doubtful, as Hitzig supposes, or changed into כּ ; for even if the windows of the east gate were not measured, they had at all events a definite measurement, so that it might be affirmed with regard to the windows of the north gate that their dimensions were the same. This also applies to the palm-decorations. With regard to the אלמּים (Ezekiel 40:21), however, it is simply stated that they were measured; but the measurement is not given. לפּניהם (Ezekiel 40:22, end) is not to be altered in an arbitrary and ungrammatical way into לפנימה , as Böttcher proposes. The suffix הם refers to the steps. Before the steps there were the אילמּים of the gate-building. This “before,” however, is not equivalent to “outside the flight of steps,” as Böttcher imagines; for the measuring man did not go out of the inside of the gate, or go down the steps into the court, but came from the court and ascended the steps, and as he was going up he saw in front ( vis-à-vis) of the steps the אילמּים of the gate, i.e., the wall-projections on both sides of the threshold of the gate. In Ezekiel 40:23 it is observed for the first time that there was a gate to the inner court opposite to the northern and the eastern gate of the outer court already described, so that the gates of the outer and inner court stood vis-à-vis. The distance between these outer and inner gates is then measured, viz., 100 cubits, in harmony with Ezekiel 40:19.
In Ezekiel 40:24-27 the south gate is described with the same brevity. Ezekiel 40:24. And he led me toward the south, and behold there was a gate toward the south, and he measured its pillars and its wall-projections according to the same measures. Ezekiel 40:25. And there were windows in it and its wall-projections round about like those windows; fifty cubits was the length, and the breadth five and twenty cubits. Ezekiel 40:26. And seven steps were its ascent and its wall-projections in the front of them, and it had palm-work, one upon this side and one upon that on its pillars. Ezekiel 40:27. And there was a gate to the inner court toward the south, and he measured from gate to gate toward the south a hundred cubits. - This gate also was built exactly like the two others. The description simply differs in form, and not in substance, from the description of the gate immediately preceding. כּמּדּות האלּ , “like those measures,” is a concise expression for “like the measures of the pillars already described at the north and east gates.” For Ezekiel 40:25, compare Ezekiel 40:16 and Ezekiel 40:21; and for Ezekiel 40:26, vid., Ezekiel 40:22. Ezekiel 40:26 is clearly explained from Ezekiel 40:16, as compared with Ezekiel 40:9. And lastly, Ezekiel 40:27 answers to the 23rd verse, and completes the measuring of the breadth of the court, which was also a hundred cubits upon the south side, from the outer gate to the inner gate standing opposite, as was the case according to Ezekiel 40:19 upon the eastern side. Hävernick has given a different explanation of Ezekiel 40:27, and would take the measurement of a hundred cubits as referring to the distance between the gates of the inner court which stood opposite to each other, because in Ezekiel 40:27 we have משּׁער in the text, and not מן השּׁער ; so that we should have to render the passage thus, “he measured from a gate to the gate toward the south a hundred cubits,” and not “from the gate (already described) of the outer court,” but from another gate, which according to the context of the verse must also be a gate of the inner court. But it is precisely the context which speaks decidedly against this explanation. For since, according to Ezekiel 40:18, the measuring man did not take the prophet into the inner court, for the purpose of measuring it before his eyes, till after he had measured from (a) gate to the south gate of the inner court, the distance which he had previously measured and found to be a hundred cubits is not to be sought for within the inner court, and therefore cannot give the distance between the gates of the inner court, which stood opposite to one another, but must be that from the south gate of the outer court to the south gate of the inner. This is the case not only here, but also in Ezekiel 40:23, where the north gate is mentioned. We may see how little importance is to be attached to the omission of the article in משּׁער from the expression משּׁער אל שׁער in Ezekiel 40:23, where neither the one gate nor the other is defined, because the context showed which gates were meant. Hävernick's explanation is therefore untenable, notwithstanding the fact that, according to Ezekiel 40:47, the size of the inner court was a hundred cubits both in breadth and length. - From the distance between the gates of the outer court and the corresponding gates of the inner, as given in Ezekiel 40:27, Ezekiel 40:23, and Ezekiel 40:19, we find that the outer court covered a space of two hundred cubits on every side, - namely, fifty cubits the distance which the outer court building projected into the court, and fifty cubits for the projection of the gate-building of the inner court into the outer court, and a hundred cubits from one gate-porch to the opposite one (50 + 50 + 100 = 200).
Consequently the full size of the building enclosed by the wall (Ezekiel 40:5), i.e., of the temple with its two courts, may also be calculated, as it has been by many of the expositors. If we proceed, for example, from the outer north gate to the outer south gate upon the ground plan (Plate I), we have, to quote the words of Kliefoth, “first the northern breadth of the outer court ( D) with its two hundred cubits; then the inner court, which measured a hundred cubits square according to Ezekiel 40:47 ( E), with its hundred cubits; and lastly, the south side of the outer court with two hundred cubits more ( D); so that the sanctuary was five hundred cubits broad from north to south. And if we start from the entrance of the east gate of the court ( A), we have first of all the eastern breadth of the outer court, viz., two hundred cubits; then the inner court ( e) with its hundred cubits; after that the temple-buildings, which also covered a space of a hundred cubits square according to Ezekiel 41:13-14, including the open space around them ( G), with another hundred cubits; and lastly, the גּזרה ( J), which was situated to the west of the temple-buildings, and also covered a space of a hundred cubits square according to Ezekiel 41:13-14, with another hundred cubits; so that the sanctuary was also five hundred cubits long from east to west, or, in other words, formed a square of five hundred cubits.”
The Gates of the Inner Court
(Vid., Plate I B and Plate II II). - Ezekiel 40:28. And he brought me into the inner court through the south gate, and measured the south gate according to the same measures; Ezekiel 40:29. And its guard-rooms, and its pillars, and its wall-projections, according to the same measures; and there were windows in it and in its wall-projections round about: fifty cubits was the length, and the breadth five and twenty cubits. Ezekiel 40:30. And wall-projections were round about, the length five and twenty cubits, and the breadth five cubits. Ezekiel 40:31. And its wall-projections were toward the outer court; and there were palms on its pillars, and eight steps its ascendings. Ezekiel 40:32. And he led me into the inner court toward the east, and measured the gate according to the same measures; Ezekiel 40:33. And its guard-rooms, and its pillars, and its wall-projections, according to the same measures; and there were windows in it and its wall-projections round about: the length was fifty cubits, and the breadth five and twenty cubits. Ezekiel 40:34. And its wall-projections were toward the outer court; and there were palms on its pillars on this side and on that side, and eight steps its ascent. Ezekiel 40:35. And he brought me to the north gate, and measured it according to the same measures; Ezekiel 40:36. Its guard-rooms, its pillars, and its wall-projections; and there were windows in it round about: the length was fifty cubits, and the breadth five and twenty cubits. Ezekiel 40:37. And its pillars stood toward the outer court; and palms were upon its pillars on this side and on that; and its ascent was eight steps. - In Ezekiel 40:27 the measuring man had measured the distance from the south gate of the outer court to the south gate of the inner court, which stood opposite to it. He then took the prophet through the latter (Ezekiel 40:28) into the inner court, and measured it as he went through, and found the same measurements as he had found in the gates of the outer court. This was also the case with the measurements of the guard-rooms, pillars, and wall-projections, and with the position of the windows, and the length and breadth of the whole of the gate-building (Ezekiel 40:29); from which it follows, as a matter of course, that this gate resembled the outer gate in construction, constituent parts, and dimensions. This also applied to both the east gate and north gate, the description of which in Ezekiel 40:32-37 corresponds exactly to that of the south gate, with the exception of slight variations of expression. It is true that the porch is not mentioned in the case of either of these gates; but it is evident that this was not wanting, and is simply passed over in the description, as we may see from Ezekiel 40:39, where the tables for the sacrifices are described as being in the porch ( בּאוּלם ). There are only two points of difference mentioned in Ezekiel 40:31, Ezekiel 40:34, and Ezekiel 40:37, by which these inner gates were distinguished from the outer. In the first place, that the flights of steps to the entrances to these gates had eight steps according to the closing words of the verses just cited, whereas those of the outer gates had only seven (cf. Ezekiel 40:22 and Ezekiel 40:26); whilst the expression also varies. מעלו being constantly used here instead of עלותו (Ezekiel 40:26). עלות , from עלה , the ascending, are literally ascents, i.e., places of mounting, for a flight of steps or staircase. מעלו , the plural of מללה , the ascent (not a singular, as Hitzig supposes), has the same meaning.
The second difference, which we find in the first clause of the verses mentioned, as of a more important character. It is contained in the words, “and its אלמּים (the projecting portions of the inner side-walls of the gateway) were directed toward the outer court” ( אל and ל indicating the direction). The interpretation of this somewhat obscure statement is facilitated by the fact that in Ezekiel 40:37 אילו stands in the place of אילמּו (Ezekiel 40:31 and Ezekiel 40:34). אילו are the two lofty gate-pillars by the porch of the gate, which formed the termination of the gate-building towards the inner court in the case of the outer gates. If, then, in the case of the inner gates, these pillars stood toward the outer court, the arrangement of these gates must have taken the reverse direction to that of the outer gates; so that a person entering the gate would not go from the flight of steps across the threshold to the guard-rooms, and then across the second threshold to the porch, but would first of all enter the porch by the pillars in front, and then go across the threshold to the guard-rooms, and, lastly, proceed across the second threshold, and so enter the inner court. But if this gate-building, when looked at from without, commenced with the porch-pillars and the front porch, this porch at any rate must have been situated outside the dividing wall of the two courts, that is to say, must have been within the limits of the outer court. And further, if the אילמּים , or wall-projections between the guard-rooms and by the thresholds, were also directed toward the outer court, the whole of the gate-building must have been built within the limits of that court. This is affirmed by the first clauses of Ezekiel 40:31, Ezekiel 40:34, and Ezekiel 40:37, which have been so greatly misunderstood; and there is no necessity to alter ואילו in Ezekiel 40:37 into ואלמּו , in accordance with Ezekiel 40:31 and Ezekiel 40:34. For what is stated in Ezekiel 40:31 and Ezekiel 40:34 concerning the position or direction of the אילמּים , also applies to the אילים ; and they are probably mentioned in Ezekiel 40:37 because of the intention to describe still further in Ezekiel 40:38 what stood near the אילים . Kliefoth very properly finds it incomprehensible, “that not a few of the commentators have been able, in spite of these definite statements in Ezekiel 40:13, Ezekiel 40:34, and Ezekiel 40:37, to adopt the conclusion that the gate-buildings of the inner gates were situated within the inner court, just as the gate-buildings of the outer gates were situated within the outer court. As the inner court measured only a hundred cubits square, if the inner gates had stood within the inner court, the north and south gates of the inner court would have met in the middle, and the porch of the east gate of the inner court would have stood close against the porches of the other two gates. It was self-evident that the gate-buildings of the inner gates stood within the more spacious outer court, like those of the outer gates. Nevertheless, the reason why the situation of the inner gates is so expressly mentioned in the text is evidently, that this made the position of the inner gates the reverse of that of the outer gates. In the case of the outer gates, the first threshold was in the surrounding wall of the outer court, and the steps stood in front of the wall; and thus the gate-building stretched into the outer court. In that of the inner gates, on the contrary the second threshold lay between the surrounding walls of the inner court, and the gate-building stretched thence into the outer court, and its steps stood in front of the porch of the gate. Moreover, in the case of the east gates, for example, the porch of the outer gate stood toward the west, and the porch of the inner gate toward the east, so that the two porches stood opposite to each other in the outer court, as described in Ezekiel 40:23 and Ezekiel 40:27.”
In Ezekiel 40:30 further particulars respecting the אילמּים are given, which are apparently unsuitable; and for this reason the verse has been omitted by the lxx, while J. D. Michaelis, Böttcher, Ewald, Hitzig, and Maurer, regard it as an untenable gloss. Hävernick has defended its genuineness; but inasmuch as he regards אילמּים as synonymous with אוּלם , he has explained it in a most marvellous and decidedly erroneous manner, as Kliefoth has already proved. The expression סביב סביב , and the length and breadth of the אלמּות here given, both appear strange. Neither of the length of the twenty-five cubits nor the breadth of the five cubits seems to tally with the other measures of the gate-building. So much may be regarded as certain, that the twenty-five cubits' length and the five cubits' breadth of the אלמּות cannot be in addition to the total length of the gate-building, namely fifty cubits, or its total breadth of twenty-five cubits, but must be included in them. For the אלמּות were simply separate portions of the side-enclosure of the gateway, since this enclosure of fifty cubits long consisted of wall-projections ( אלמּות ), three open guard-rooms, and a porch with pillars. The open space of the guard-rooms was 3 x 6 = 18 cubits, and the porch was six cubits broad in the clear (Ezekiel 40:7 and Ezekiel 40:8), and the pillars two cubits thick. If we deduct these 18 + 6 + 2 = 26 cubits from the fifty cubits of the entire length, there remain twenty-four cubits for the walls by the side of the thresholds and between the guard-rooms, namely, 2 x 5 = 10 cubits for the walls between the three guard-rooms, 2 x 6 = 12 cubits for the walls of the threshold, and 2 cubits for the walls of the porch; in all, therefore, twenty-four cubits for the אלמּות ; so that only one cubit is wanting to give us the measurement stated, viz., twenty-five cubits. We obtain this missing cubit if we assume that the front of the wall-projections by the guard-rooms and thresholds was a handbreadth and a half, or six inches wider than the thickness of the walls, that is to say, that it projected three inches on each side in the form of a moulding. - The breadth of the אלמּות in question, namely five cubits, was the thickness of their wall-work, however, or the dimension of the intervening wall from the inside to the outside on either side of the gateway. That the intervening walls should be of such a thickness will not appear strange, if we consider that the surrounding wall of the court was six cubits thick, with a height of only six cubits (Ezekiel 40:5). And even the striking expression סביב סביב becomes intelligible if we take into consideration the fact that the projecting walls bounded not only the entrance to the gate, and the passage through it on the two sides, but also the inner spaces of the gate-building (the guard-rooms and porch) on all sides, and, together with the gates, enclosed the gateway on every side. Consequently Ezekiel 40:30 not only as a suitable meaning, but furnishes a definite measurement of no little value for the completion of the picture of the gate-buildings. The fact that this definite measure was not given in connection with the gates of the outer court, but was only supplemented in the case of the south gate of the inner court, cannot furnish any ground for suspecting its genuineness, as several particulars are supplemented in the same manner in this description. Thus, for example, the number of steps in front of the outer gates is first given in Ezekiel 40:22, where the north gate is described. Still less is there to surprise us in the fact that these particulars are not repeated in the case of the following gates, in which some writers have also discovered a ground for suspecting the genuineness of the verse.
From the south gate the measuring man led the prophet (Ezekiel 40:32) into the inner court toward the east, to measure for him the inner east gate, the description of which (Ezekiel 40:33 and Ezekiel 40:34) corresponds exactly to that of the south gate. Lastly, he led him (Ezekiel 40:35) to the inner north gate for the same purpose; and this is also found to correspond to those previously mentioned, and is described in the same manner. The difficulty which Hitzig finds in אל־החצר in Ezekiel 40:32, and which drives him into various conjectures, with the assistance of the lxx, vanishes, if instead of taking דּרך הקּדים along with החצר הפּנימי as a further definition of the latter, we connect it with ויביאני as an indication of the direction taken: he led me into the inner court, the way (or direction) toward the east, and measured the gate (situated there). The words, when taken in this sense, do not warrant the conclusion that he had gone out at the south gate again. - וּמדד in Ezekiel 40:35 is an Aramaic form for ויּמד in Ezekiel 40:32 and Ezekiel 40:28.
The Cells and Arrangements for the Sacrificial Worship by and in the Inner Court
Ezekiel 40:38. And a cell with its door was by the pillars at the gates; there they had to wash the burnt-offering. Ezekiel 40:39. And in the porch of the gate were two tables on this side and two tables on that, to slay thereon the burnt-offering, the sin-offering, and the trespass-offering. Ezekiel 40:40. And at the shoulder outside, to one going up to the opening of the gate toward the north, stood two tables; and at the other shoulder, by the porch of the gate, two tables. Ezekiel 40:41. Four tables on this side and four tables on that side, at the shoulder of the gate; eight tables on which they were to slaughter. Ezekiel 40:42. And four tables by the steps, hewn stone, a cubit and a half long, and a cubit and a half broad, and a cubit high; upon these they were to lay the instruments with which they slaughtered the burnt-offerings and other sacrifices. Ezekiel 40:43. And the double pegs, a span long, were fastened round about the house; but the flesh of the sacrifice was placed upon the tables. Ezekiel 40:44. And outside the inner gate were two cells in the inner court, one at the shoulder of the north gate, with its front side toward the south; one at the shoulder of the south gate, with the front toward the north. Ezekiel 40:45. And he said to me, This cell, whose front is toward the south, is for the priests who attend to the keeping of the house; Ezekiel 40:46. And the cell whose front is toward the north is for the priests who attend to the keeping of the altar. They are the sons of Zadok, who draw near to Jehovah of the sons of Levi, to serve Him. Ezekiel 40:47. And he measured the court, the length a hundred cubits, and the breadth a hundred cubits in the square, and the altar stood before the house. - The opinions of modern commentators differ greatly as to the situation of the cells mentioned in Ezekiel 40:38, since Bצttcher and Hitzig had adjusted a text to suit their own liking, founded upon the Septuagint and upon decidedly erroneous suppositions. The dispute, whether בּאילים is to be rendered in or by the אילים , may be easily set at rest by the simple consideration that the אילים in front of the porch of the gate were pillars of two cubits long and the same broad (Ezekiel 40:9), in which it was impossible that a room could be constructed. Hence the לשׁכּה could only be by (near) the pillars of the gate. To בּאילים there is also added השּׁערים (by the gates)in loose coordination (vid., Ewald, §293 e), not for the purpose of describing the position of the pillars more minutely, which would be quite superfluous after Ezekiel 40:9, but to explain the plural אילים , and extend it to the pillars of all the three inner gates, so that we have to assume that there was a לשׁכּה by the pillars of all these gates (Plate I O). This is also demanded by the purpose of these cells, viz., “for the cleansing or washing of the burnt-offering.” As the sacrifices were not taken through one gate alone, but through all the gates, the Sabbath-offering of the prince being carried, according to Ezekiel 46:1-2, through the east gate, which was closed during the week, and only opened on the Sabbath, there must have been a cell, not by the north gate alone (Böttcher, Hävernick), or by the east gate only (Ewald, Hitzig), but by every gate, for the cleansing of the burnt-offering. Hävernick, Hitzig, and others are wrong in supposing that העולה is a synecdochical designation applied to every kind of animal sacrifice. This is precluded not only by the express mention of the burnt-offerings, sin-offerings, and trespass-offerings (Ezekiel 40:39), and by the use of the word קרבּן in this sense in Ezekiel 40:43, but chiefly by the circumstance that neither the Old Testament nor the Talmud makes any allusion to the washing of every kind of flesh offered in sacrifice, but that they merely speak of the washing of the entrails and legs of the animals sacrificed as burnt-offerings (Leviticus 1:9), for which purpose the basins upon the mechonoth in Solomon's temple were used (2 Chronicles 4:6, where the term רחץ used in Leviticus 1:9 is interpreted by the apposition את־מעשׂה העול ä י ). A room at every gate (not by every pillar) was sufficient for this purpose. If there had been a לשׁכּה of this kind on each side of the gate, as many have assumed on symmetrical grounds, this would have been mentioned, just as in the case of the slaughtering-tables (Ezekiel 40:39-42). The text furnishes no information as to the side of the doorway on which it stood, whether by the right or the left pillars. On the ground plan we have placed the one at the east gate, on the right side, and those by the north and south gates on the western side (Plate I O O O).
Moreover, according to Ezekiel 40:39-41, there were twice two tables on each side, eight therefore in all, which served for slaughtering. Two pairs stood “in the porch of the gate,” i.e., in the inner space of the porch, one pair on this side, the other pair on that, i.e., on the right and left sides to a person entering the porch, probably near the wall (see Plate II II f f). The expression לשׁחוט אליהם , to slaughter at the tables (Ezekiel 40:39 and Ezekiel 40:40), stands for “to use when slaughtering” - that is, for the purpose of laying the slaughtered flesh upon. This is apparent from the fact itself in Ezekiel 40:39. For the slaughtering was not performed within the front porch, but outside, and somewhere near it. The front porch of the gate-building was not a slaughter-house, but the place where those who entered the gate could assemble. The only purpose, therefore, for which the tables standing here could be used was to place the sacrificial flesh upon when it was prepared for the altar, that the priests might take it thence and lay it upon the altar. בּאלם השּׁער is to be understood as signifying the inner space of the porch; this is required by the antithesis in Ezekiel 40:40, where two pair of tables outside the porch are mentioned. Two of these stood “by the shoulder outside to one going up to the gate opening, the northern” (Plate II II d d). The meaning of these not very intelligible words is apparent from the second half of the verse, which adds the correlative statement as to the two opposite tables. When it is said of these tables that they stood by the other shoulder ( אל־הכּתף ) which the porch of the gate had, not only is לפּתח השּׁער of the first hemistich more precisely defined hereby as the gate-porch, but החּפונה is also rendered intelligible, namely, that as it corresponds to האחרת , it is an adjective belonging to אל הכּתף , “at the northern shoulder outside to a person going up the steps to the opening of the gate” ( מחוּצה , the outer side, in contrast to the inside of the porch, בּאלּם , Ezekiel 40:39). The shoulder of the gate, or rather of the porch of the gate, is the side of it, and that the outer side. Consequently these four tables stood by the outer sides of the porch, two by the right wall and two by the left. In Ezekiel 40:41, what has already been stated concerning the position of the tables mentioned in Ezekiel 40:39 and Ezekiel 40:40 is summed up: Four tables stood on each side of the porch, two inside, and two against the outer wall, eight tables in all, which were used for slaughtering purposes. There is nothing strange in לכתף as an abbreviated expression for לכּתף אשׁר לאלם השּׁער in Ezekiel 40:40, as want of clearness was not to be feared after Ezekiel 40:40. In addition to these there were four other tables ( וארבּעה , and four, Ezekiel 40:42) of stone, from which it may be inferred that the four already mentioned were of wood. The four stone tables stood לעולה , i.e., at (near) the flight of steps (cf. לפי קרת , at the entrance to the city, Proverbs 8:3), and were of hewn square stones, as no doubt the steps also were (see Plate II II e e). It yields no sense whatever to render לעולה “for the burnt-offering” (lxx and others); and the expression עלות in Ezekiel 40:26 thoroughly warrants our translating עולה , a flight of steps or staircase). These stone tables served as flesh-benches, on which the slaughtering tools were laid. אליהם וינּיחוּ belong together, the ו being inserted “as if at the commencement of a new sentence after a pause in the thought” (cf. Proverbs 23:24; Proverbs 30:28; Genesis 50:9, Böttcher). It is not expressly stated, indeed, that these four tables were distributed on the two sides of the steps; but this may be inferred with certainty from the position of the other tables. Moreover, the twelve tables mentioned were not merely to be found at one of the gate-porches, but by all three of the inner fates, as was the case with the washing-cells (Ezekiel 40:38), for sacrificial animals were taken to the altar and slaughtered at every gate; so that what is stated in Ezekiel 40:39-42 with reference to one porch, namely, the porch of the east gate, to judge from הצּפונה in Ezekiel 40:40, is applicable to the porches of the south and north gates also.
In Ezekiel 40:43 another provision for the slaughtering of the sacrificial animals is mentioned, concerning which the opinions of the older translators and commentators are greatly divided. but the only explanation that can be sustained, so far as both the usage of the language and the facts are concerned, is that adopted by the Chaldee, viz., וענקלין נפקין פשׁך חד קביעין בעמּוּדי בּית , et uncini egrediebantur (longitudine) unius palmi defixi in columnis domus macelli , to which not only Böttcher, but Roediger (Ges. Thes. p. 1470) and Dietrich ( Lex.) have given their adhesion. For שׁפתּים , from שׁפת , to set or stand (act.), signifies stakes or pegs (in Psalms 68:14, the folds constructed of stakes), here pegs a span long on the wall, into which they were inserted, and from which they projected to the length of a span. In the dual it stands for double pegs, forked pegs, upon which the carcases of the beasts were hung of the purpose of flaying, as Dav. Kimchi has interpreted the words of the Chaldee. The article indicates the kind, viz., the pegs required for the process of slaughtering. This explanation is also in harmony with the verb מוּכנים , Hophal of כוּן , fastened, which by no means suits the rendering originated by the lxx, viz., ledges round the edge or the rim of the table. The only remaining difficulty is the word בּבּית , which Böttcher interprets as signifying “in the interior of the gate-porch and pillars” (Roediger, in interiore parte, nempe in ea atrii parte, ubi hostiae mactandae essent ), on the just ground that the interior of the front porch could not be the place for slaughtering, but that this could only be done outside, either in front of or near the porch. But even in interiore parte atrii is not really suitable, and at all events is too indefinite for מוּכנים . It would therefore be probably more correct to render it “fastened against the house,” i.e., to the outer walls of the gate-porch buildings, so that בּית would stand for buildings in the sense of בּניה , although I cannot cite any passage as a certain proof of the correctness of this rendering. But this does not render the explanation itself a doubtful one, as it would be still more difficult to interpret בּבּית if שׁפתּים were explained in any other way. סביב סביב refers to the three outer sides of the porch. The description of the slaughtering apparatus closes in Ezekiel 40:43 with the words, “and upon the tables (mentioned in Ezekiel 40:39-42) came the flesh of the offering.” קרבּן , the general word for sacrificial offerings, as in Leviticus 1:2 ff.
In Ezekiel 40:44-46 we have a description of cells for the officiating priests, and in Ezekiel 40:45 and Ezekiel 40:46 two such cells are plainly mentioned according to their situation and purpose (vid., Plate I F F). But it is impossible to bring the Masoretic text of Ezekiel 40:44 into harmony with this, without explaining it in an arbitrary manner. For, in the first place, the reference there is to לשׁכות שׁרים , cells of the singers; whereas these cells, according to Ezekiel 40:45 and Ezekiel 40:46, were intended for the priests who performed the service in the temple-house and at the altar of burnt-offering. The attempt of both the earlier and the more recent supporters of the Masoretic text to set aside this discrepancy, by arguing that the priests who had to attend to the service in the temple and at the altar, according to Ezekiel 40:45 and Ezekiel 40:46, were singers, is overturned by the fact that in the Old Testament worship a sharp distinction is made between the Levitical singers and the priests, i.e., the Aaronites who administered the priesthood; and Ezekiel does not abolish this distinction in the vision of the temple, but sharpens it still further by the command, that none but the sons of Zadok are to attend to the priestly service at the sanctuary, while the other descendants of Aaron, i.e., the Aaronites who sprang from Ithamar, are only to be employed in watching at the gate of the house, and other non-priestly occupations (Ezekiel 44:10 ff.). Consequently Ezekiel could not identify the priests with the singers, or call the cells intended for the officiating priests singers' cells. Moreover, only two cells, or cell-buildings, are mentioned in Ezekiel 40:45 and Ezekiel 40:46, and their position is described in the same words as that of the cells mentioned in Ezekiel 40:44, so that there can be no doubt as to the identity of the former and the latter cells. In Ezekiel 40:44 the supposed singers' cells are placed at the north gate, with the front toward the south, which only applies, according to Ezekiel 40:45, to the one cell intended for the priests who attended to the service in the holy place; and again, in Ezekiel 40:44, another cell is mentioned at the east gate, with the front toward the north, which was set apart, according to Ezekiel 40:46, for the priests who attended to the altar service. Consequently, according to our Masoretic text of the 44th verse, there would be first singers' cells (in the plural), and then one cell, at least three cells therefore; whereas, according to Ezekiel 40:45 and Ezekiel 40:46, there were only two. And lastly, the אחד in Ezekiel 40:44 can only be understood by our taking it in the sense of “another,” in opposition to the usage of the language. For these reasons we are compelled to alter שׁרים into שׁתים , and אשׁר into אחת , after the lxx, and probably also הקּדים into הדּרום , and in consequence of this to adopt the pointing לשׁכות , and to read פּניה instead of פּניהם . Further alterations are not requisite or indicated by the lxx, as the rest of the deviations in their text are to be explained from their free handling of the original.
According to the text with these alterations, even in Ezekiel 40:44 there are only two cells mentioned. They were situated “outside the inner gate.” This definition is ambiguous, for you are outside the inner gate not only before entering the gate, i.e., while in the outer court, but also after having passed through it and entered the inner court. Hence there follows the more precise definition, “in the inner court.” If, then, we read אחת for אשׁר , there follows, in prefect accordance with the fact, a more precise statement as to the situation of both the one and the other of these cells, אחת and אחד corresponding to one another. The second אחד , instead of אחת , which is grammatically the more correct, is to be attributed to a constructio ad sensum , as the לשׁכות were not separate rooms, but buildings with several chambers. One cell stood by the shoulder (side) of the north gate, with the front ( פנים ) toward the south; the other at the shoulder of the south gate, with the front toward the north. They stood opposite to one another, therefore, with their fronts facing each other. Instead of the south gate, however, the Masoretic text has שׁער הקּדים , the east gate; and Ezekiel 40:46 contains nothing that would be expressly at variance with this, so that הקּדים could be defended in case of need. But only in case of need - that is to say, if we follow Kliefoth in assuming that it stood on the left of the gateway to persons entering through the east gate, and explaining the fact that its front turned toward the north, on the ground that the priests who resided in it were charged with the duty of inspecting the sacrifices brought through the east gate, or watching the bringing in of the sacrifices, so that this cell was simply a watchman's cell after all. But this assumption is founded upon a misinterpretation of the formula שׁמר משׁמרת , to keep the keeping of the altar. This formula does not mean to watch and see that nothing unlawful was taken to the altar, but refers to the altar service itself, the observance of everything devolving upon the servants of the altar in the performance of the sacrificial worship, or the offering of the sacrifices upon the altar according to the precepts of the law. If, then, this duty was binding upon the priests who resided in this cell, it would have been very unsuitable for the front of the cell to be turned toward the north, in which case it would have been absolutely impossible to see the altar from the front of the cell. This unsuitability can only be removed by the supposition that the cell was built at the south gate, with the front toward the north, i.e., looking directly toward the altar. For this reason we must also regard הקּדים as a corruption of הדּרום , and look for this second cell at the south gate, so that it stood opposite to the one built at the north gate. - All that remains doubtful is, whether these two cells were on the east or the west side of the south and north gates, a point concerning which we have no information given in the text. In our sketch we have placed them on the west side (vid., Plate I f), so that they stood in front of the altar and the porch-steps. The concluding words of Ezekiel 40:46, in which המּה refers to the priests mentioned in Ezekiel 40:45 and Ezekiel 40:46, state that in the new sanctuary only priests of the sons of Zadok were to take charge of the service at the altar and in the holy place; and this is still further expanded in Ezekiel 44:10 ff. - Finally, in Ezekiel 40:47 the description of the courts is concluded with the account of the measure of the inner court, a hundred cubits long and the same in breadth, according to which it formed a perfect square surrounded by a wall, according to Ezekiel 42:10. The only other observation made is, that it was within this space that the altar of burnt-offering stood, the description of which is given afterwards in Ezekiel 43:13 ff. (see Plate I H).
(see Plate III A). The measuring angel conducts the prophet still farther to the porch of the temple, and measures its breadth and length. - Ezekiel 40:48. And he led me to the porch of the house, and measured the pillar of the porch, five cubits on this side and five cubits on that side; and the breadth of the gate, three cubits on this side and three cubits on that side. Ezekiel 40:49. The length of the porch was twenty cubits, and the breadth eleven cubits, and that by the steps by which one went up; and columns were by the pillars, one on this side and one on that side. - הבּית is the temple in the more restricted sense of the word, the temple-house, as in 1 Kings 6:2, etc.; and אלם , the porch before the entrance into the holy place (cf. 1 Kings 6:3). The measurements in Ezekiel 40:48 and Ezekiel 40:49, which are apparently irreconcilable with one another, led the lxx to the adoption of arbitrary interpolations and conjectures in Ezekiel 40:49, in accordance with which Böttcher, Hitzig, and others have made corrections in the text, which have a plausible justification in the many artificial and for the most part mistaken interpretations that have been given of the text. The measures in Ezekiel 40:49 are perfectly plain, namely, the length of the porch twenty cubits, and the breadth eleven cubits; and there is no question that these measurements are to be understood in the clear, that is to say, as referring to the internal space, excluding the side-walls, as in the case of the holy place, the most holy place, and the inner court. The only question is whether the length signifies the dimension from east to west, i.e., the distance which had to be traversed on entering the temple, and therefore the breadth, the extent from north to south; or whether we are to understand by the length the larger dimension, and by the breadth the smaller, in which case the measurement from north to south, which formed the breadth of the house, would be designated the length of the porch, and that from east to west the breadth. Nearly all the commentators have decided in favour of the latter view, because, in the porch of Solomon's temple, the length of twenty cubits was measured according to the breadth of the house. But the fact has been overlooked, that in 1 Kings 6:3 the length given is more precisely defined by the clause, “in front of the breadth of the house.” There is no such definition here, and the analogy of the building of Solomon's temple is not sufficient in itself to warrant our regarding the construction of the porch in the temple seen by Ezekiel as being precisely the same; since it was only in the essential portions, the form of which was of symbolical significance (the holy place and the most holy), that this picture of a temple resembled the temple of Solomon, whereas in those which were less essential it differed from that temple in various ways. At the very outset, therefore, the more probable assumption appears to be, that just as in the case of the holy place and the holy of holies, so also in that of the porch, we are to understand by the length, the distance to be traversed (from east to west), and by the breadth, the extension on either side (i.e., from south to north).
If, then, we understand the measurements in Ezekiel 40:49 in this way, the measures given in Ezekiel 40:48 may also be explained without any alterations in the text. The measuring of the pillar of the porch on either side, and of the gate on this side and that (Ezekiel 40:48), is sufficient of itself to lead to the conclusion that the front turned toward a person entering is the breadth from south to north. This breadth presented to the eye a pillar on this side and one on that - two pillars, therefore, each five cubits broad ( c c), and a breadth of gate of three cubits on this side and three on that, six cubits in all ( b), that is to say, a total breadth ( k-k) of 5 + 3 + 3 + 5 = 16 cubits. The only thing that can surprise one here is the manner in which the breadth of the gate is defined: three cubits on this side and that, instead of simply six cubits. But the only reason in all probability is, that the pillars on either side are mentioned just before, and the gate of six cubits' breadth consisted of two halves, which had their hinges fastened to the adjoining pillars, so that each half was measured by itself from the pillar to which it was attached. The breadth of front mentioned, viz., sixteen cubits, agrees very well with the breadth of the porch inside, i.e., eleven cubits ( m-m), for it allows a thickness of two cubits and a half for each side wall ( a), and this was sufficient for the walls of a porch. The pillars, which were five cubits broad on the outer face, were therefore only half that breadth (2 1/2 cubits) in the inner side within the porch, the other two cubits and a half forming the side wall. All the particulars given in Ezekiel 40:48 may be explained in this way without any artifice, and yield a result the proportions of which are in harmony with those of the entire building. For the porch, with an external breadth of sixteen cubits, was half as broad as the house, which had a breadth of twenty cubits in the clear, and side walls of six cubits in thickness (Ezekiel 41:5), so that when measured on the outside it was 6 + 20 + 6 = 32 cubits broad. The breadth of the interior also is apparently perfectly appropriate, as the porch was not intended either for the reception of vessels or for the abode of individuals, but was a simple erection in front of the entrance into the holy place, the door of which ( d) was ten cubits broad (Ezekiel 41:2), that is to say, half a cubit narrower on either side than the porch-way leading to it. And lastly, the length of the porch was also in good proportion to the holy place, which followed the porch; the porch being twenty cubits long, and the holy place forty cubits. If we add to this the front wall, with a thickness of two cubits and a half, corresponding to that of the side walls, we obtain an external length of twenty-two cubits and a half for the porch. In front were the steps by which one went up to the porch ( l). It is generally supposed that there were ten steps, the אשׁר after בּמּעלות being changed into עשׂר (ten) after the example of the lxx. But however this alteration may commend itself when the facts of the case are considered, ten steps in front of the porch answering very well to the eight steps before the gateway of the inner court, and to the seven steps in front of the gateway of the outer court, it is not absolutely necessary, and in all probability is merely a conjecture of the Seventy, who did not know what to do with אשׁר , and possibly it is not even correct (see at Ezekiel 41:8). The words וּבמּעלות אשׁר can be attached without difficulty to the preceding account of the breadth: “the breadth was eleven cubits, and that at the steps by which they went up to it,” i.e., when measured on the side on which the flight of steps stood. If the words are taken in this way, they serve to remove all doubt as to the side which is designated as the breadth, with special reference to the fact that the porch of Solomon's temple was constructed in a different manner. The number of steps, therefore, is not given, as was also the case with the east gate of the outer court (Ezekiel 40:6), because it was of no essential importance in relation to the entire building. The last statement, “and there were columns by the pillars on this side and on that,” is free from difficulty, although there is also a difference of opinion among the commentators as to the position of these columns. האילים points back to אל אלם (Ezekiel 40:48). The preposition אל does not imply that the columns stood close to the pillars, and had the form of half-columns, but simply that they stood near the pillars (see Plate III K), like the columns Jachin and Boaz in Solomon's temple, to which they correspond.
The Keil & Delitzsch Old Testament Commentary is a derivative of a public domain electronic edition.
Keil, Carl Friedrich & Delitzsch, Franz. "Commentary on Ezekiel 40". Keil & Delitzsch Old Testament Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 15 / Ordinary 20